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BERKOWITZ ENVCIOKF 00., K. 0., M
KANSAS CITY. MO PUBLIC UBRARY
THE JEWISH" SCHOOL
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE
HISTORY OF JEWISH EDUCATION
NATHAN MORRIS, M.A.
EDUCATION OFFICER OF THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
EYRE AND SPOTTISWOO.JE
Madt and Printed in Great Britain for
Byre and Spottiswoode (Publishers), London
I. Jewish education is passed over in silence, or only
incidentally referred to, in general educational litera-
ture. Examples from Monroe, Cubberley and Boyd.
II. The reasons for this attitude. III. Jewish educa-
tion is entitled to a place in the general story of educa-
tion. The length of its history. The school as the largest
single factor in Jewish life. The achievements of Jewish
education in Palestine in modern times.
CHAPTER I. THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 3
I. The Jewish school came into being as the result of a
long process of gradual growth. There is no mention
of the school in the Bible ; nor of regular formal educa-
tion of children. Illustrations from the stones of biblical
heroes. The practical training of the child. II. Formal
education in the Bible. The Paradise story. The priests,
elders and judges. The idea of teaching and learning in
the modern sense first appeared with the emergence of
literary prophecy. III. The circumstances leading up
to the rise of the Synagogue. The priest and the prophet.
The Babylonian captivity. The Synagogue as a school
for adults ; and as a means of indirect education for
children. The early teachers. The Hellenistic period.
Schools for youths. The Roman wars. The rise of the
publicly organised and publicly controlled elementary
school. Three stages in the development of the school.
CHAPTER II. THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 14
I. Evidence for the existence of the elementary school
outside Talrnudic literature. Direct evidence in Tal-
mudic literature. The tradition about Joshua ben
Gamala ; its interpretation as an historical outline of the
development of elementary education. II. The current
view on the rise of the elementary school. Illustration
from Professor Klausner's " History." Criticism of the
current view. III. Did " compulsory " and " uni-
versal " education ever exist among the Jews? Evidence
against it. The illiterate class. Schools were still un-
common in the second century c.E. The idea of the
father as the teacher was deeply rooted. The gradual
shifting of the conception of education from the indi-
vidual to the social plane. The lack of educational
facilities in the third century C.E. The story of Rabbi
Hanina and Rabbi Hiyya. Moral persuasion instead of
legal compulsion. General elementary education was
accomplished about the fourth century C.E.
CHAPTER III. THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 24
I. The legal position of the woman in early times. The
father's power over his daughter. The husband's power
over his wife. The woman's social position. The
mother. Outstanding women in almost every walk of
life. Conjugal affection. Illustrations from the Bible.
The period of the second temple. Proverbs, chap. xxxi.
Prominent women in fact and fiction. The education of
girls in those times. II. The gradual deterioration of
the woman's social position. Hellenistic influence.
Ecclesiastes. The transformation of Jewish life after
the Roman wars. Leadership of learning. Education
closed to the woman. The social and religious life of the
woman in Talmudic times. Illustrations from rabbinical
literature. Woman in early Christianity.
CHAPTER IV. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 37
I. Hellenistic influence. Contrasts between the Jewish
and the Spartan systems of education. Similarities be-
tween the schools of Athens and of Palestine. The
11 Greek " cities in Palestine. The Jewish communities
in the Diaspora. Greek influence on the development
of post-biblical Hebrew. The Palestinian Jews were
acquainted with the Hellenistic school organisation.
The pervasive influence of Hellenism. Dr. Boyd's
view that the Jews " adopted the Hellenic institution of
the school." This view is an overestimate of the case.
The necessary conditions for the rise of formal education
had existed in Palestine before the Hellenistic period.
Hellenism was only a factor of secondary importance.
II. The father's individual responsibility for the instruc-
tion of his sons was the basic principle of Jewish educa-
tion. The early school was a private and independent in-
stitution. General control by the community. Fees.
Distinction between higher education and elementary
education. Free teaching of the " Oral Law." Fees
in elementary education were not fixed. The gradual
tightening of communal control. Yet ultimately the
school remained a private venture. The effect of this
system upon the education of the poor. Comparison
with the Athenian school.
CHAPTER V. THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 48
I. How the elementary school was housed. The later
Talmudic period. The earlier period. The Synagogue
as ** the people's house." II. The equipment of the
school. The pupils probably sat on the ground. The
tablet and the stylus. The pointer. The strap. Com-
parison with the Athenian school. The tradition about
Rabbi Akiba. III. Books. The advantage of the Greek
school over the Jewish. The Greek boy could make his
own boolls from his teacher's dictation. This method
was barred to the Jewish boy. The Bible was the only
book available. The scarcity and costliness of books.
Illustrations from the Talmud. The reverence for books.
Portions of the Bible were made into special scrolls for
the use of children.
CHAPTER VI. THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK 59
I. Pre-school training at home. The age of three was
the starting-point for education. The entrance age to
the school. The leaving age. Resemblance to Greek
practice. II. School hours. Holidays. The long hours
were due to the fact of individual teaching. III. The
teacher's qualifications. Strict supervision by the re-
ligious heads of the community. Communal control
did not imply a comfortable living. The social status of
the elementary teacher. The position in Greece and
Rome. The different character of Jewish education.
The distinction between higher and elementary educa-
tion. The "sun" and the "stars." The elementary
schoolmaster was usually accorded the last place among
CHAPTER VII. THE SCOPE OF STUDIES 71
I. The scope of studies in the Jewish school of the
later Talmudic period. A comparison with the cur-
riculum of the Hellenistic school. II. Secular subjects.
The period before the Roman wars. Children were some-
times sent to non-Jewish teachers. Jewish teachers bor-
rowed from matter and methods of non-Jewish teachers.
An example from the Talmudic method of disputation.
III. An important tradition bearing on the question
of secular subjects. Before the fall of the stale it was
customary, among the upper classes, to teach children
the Greek language and literature. After the destruc-
tion of the second temple education became identified
with the study of the Tor ah alone.
CHAPTER VIIL READING WRITING ARITHMETIC 78
I. Arithmetic was not included in the curriculum of the
elementary school in the later Talmudic period ; nor was
reading, as an independent subject of study, known in
that school. II. Writing was not an uncommon art in
Bible times and in the early post-biblical period. Evi-
dence from the Bible and from early rabbinical litera-
ture. In the later period, and especially in Babylonia,
writing was uncommon. Evidence from the Talmud.
Writing was of little practical use. It was not taught
in the elementary school of later times.
CHAPTER IX* BIBLE LITURGY " ORAL LAW " 84
I. The close association of the school with the Syna-
gogue. Scriptural readings in the Synagogue. The
septennial, the triennial and the annual cycles. The
lessons from the Prophets. The Hagiographa. The
manner of reading. II. Bible studies in the school
followed the order of the weekly readings in the Syna-
gogue. Children were encouraged to read and translate
in public. The Bible syllabus in earlier and in later
times. A good knowledge of the Pentateuch was
common among children in the later centuries of the
Talmudic period. III. The practice of beginning in
school with Leviticus. Suggested reasons for this prac-
tice. The assumption that it originated before the fall
of the state. Criticism of the current views. The origin
must be sought in post-temple times. The practice was
a means of securing a place on the curriculum for " the
law of the priests " which had gone out of use. IV.
The liturgy occupied a prominent place in the elementary
school. The festivals. The " Haggadah " for Passover
as a textbook. The " Shema." The " Hallel" and
the " Grace." Benedictions. The difficulty of acquir-
ing a correct knowledge of the liturgy owing to- its fluid
form. Children were expected to have a good know-
ledge of it. The story of the sage and the schoolboy.
V. In the earlier period elementary education did not
go beyond the " Written Law, " Later the " Oral Law "
began to gain in importance at the expense of the Bible.
The difference in this respect between Palestine and
Babylonia. Palestinian scholars devoted more attention
to the Scriptures to be able to meet the attacks of Chris-
tian controversialists. Scholars who taught the Mishnah
to their own sons. The elementary school , as a rule, did
not teach the " Oral Law." The teaching of swim-
ming ; an echo of Athenian practice. The school's active
part in the development of religious life.
THEORY AND METHOD
CHAPTER X. THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 99
I. Rabbinical educational theory. Jewish educational
thought approaches nearer to Herbartianism than to
other systems. The aim of education ; and the means.
Illustrations. The place of the teacher. II. Differences
between the two systems. Herbart's system was essen-
tially individualistic. In Jewish education in post-
temple times the social aim predominated. Illustra-
tions from rabbinical literature. III. Rabbinical
psychology. Comparison with Herbart's system. The
young child. Adolescence. The " evil inclination " and
the "good inclination." The emergence of the latter
during the period of adolescence. Substantial agree-
ment of rabbinical views with those of modern writers.
Hall, Slaughter and Wheeler on adolescence. IV. The
application of rabbinical psychology. A further compari-
son with Herbart. The emphasis put by the Jewish
teachers on practical religious training. Intelligence
tests. The two main forces which combined to shape
Jewish educational thought.
CHAPTER XL MEMORY iia
I. Memory in modern educational theory. The change
of attitude towards the problem of the learning process ;
a result of the development of psychological theory and
of the great expansion of knowledge. The change in
the direction of educational aims from the past to the
future ; the shifting of prominence from the conservative
to the creative aim in education. II. Jewish education
in ancient times was mainly concerned with the past.
Illustrations from the Talmud. III. Political condi-
tions forced the people to seek a refuge in the past from
a difficult present. The memories of the past were kept
alive by a system of ritual and ceremonial. The school's
contribution to the development of this system. " Pure "
memory and " rote " memory. Quintilian's views on
memory. Jewish teachers were aware of the value of
logical order and system. Yet Talmudic literature ex-
hibits a "woeful lack of systematic arrangement."
IV. The fundamental fact : Jewish education in Tal-
mudic times was largely a bookless system. The studies
in the high school were carried on without the use of
written texts. The anxiety for preserving the sacred
literature. The dependence upon the teacher. The posi-
tion in the elementary school. The absence of a
vowel system. V. The Bible identifies the heart with
the seat of intellectual powers. Comparison with
Plato and Aristotle. Illustrations from the Bible. The
Talmudic view of memory. Superstitions about memory.
Astonishing feats of memory.
CHAPTER XII. MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE 125
L The method of study for the " Oral Law." The
chief concern was the acquisition of the subject-matter.
The method of higher education was also used for the
instruction of children. An instructive Talmudic dispute.
A comparison with the methods of the classical Greek
school. II. The Talmudic method compared with that
of Pestalozzi. Modern views on the subject. The Tal-
mudic method more justified for the Bible than for other
subjects of study. The determining factor in the selec-
tion of material was not the present interest of the child,
but that of the adult community. III. Memorisation
was secured chiefly by means of repetition. The number
of repetitions. Plato, Aristotle and Quintilian on
memory in childhood. Modern opinion on this subject.
The Talmudic view.
CHAPTER XIII. AIDS TO MEMORY 134
I. Methods of memorisation. Brevity. " Multiple stimu-
lation." The " whole " and the " part " methods. The
length of the lesson in higher education ; in the elemen-
tary school. "Tell me your verse." II. Aids to memory.
Mnemonics arbitrary and significant. Reading aloud.
Silent reading was discouraged. Modern views on silent
reading. Quintilian's view. Illustrations from rab-
binical literature on reading aloud. III. " Chanting "
the Bible lesson. Biblical " accents." Cantillation.
Different chants for the various books of the Bible. In-
strumental music was not taught in the Jewish ele-
mentary school. The Greek practice. Superiority of
the Greek and Jewish methods over modern practice.
IV. Interest. Rav's rule. Illustration from Maimon-
CHAPTER XIV. THE TEACHING OF READING 146
I. Monroe on the teaching of reading in the Greek
school. The peculiar difficulties of Hebrew. Illustration
from the Talmud. II. The teaching of the alphabet.
The alphabet as material for moral and religious in-
struction. III. The next step after the alphabet.
Three methods of teaching reading the alphabetic, the
synthetic and the analytic. Neither of these was avail-
able to the Jewish teacher of Talmudic times. Dr. Ken-
nedy's view on the teaching of reading in the early Jewish
elementary school. Criticism. The only method possible
in the circumstances. IV. The suitability of some form
of this method for the modern Hebrew school. V. The
possible contribution of the Talmudic elementary school
to the development of the Hebrew vowel system. Pinsker
and Weiss on this subject. Illustration from the Midrash.
CHAPTER XV. TRANSLATION 159
I. Translation as a method of language instruction
originated in the early Jewish school. The Jewish
method of translation of the present day has behind it
a tradition of twenty-five hundred years. II. The
method of translation in the early school was similar
to that of the Synagogue. Translation in the Synagogue
was not a complete rendering, but rather an explana-
tion. Reasons for this practice. The translation was
recited from memory and not from a written text.
Reasons for this. The unit for translation was one or
more whole verses. The method compared with modern
practice. III. The deterioration of the method of trans-
lation in post-Talmudic ages. Modern controversies
about methods of language teaching. The objections to
translation are less applicable to the ancient Jewish than
to the more modern forms of the method.
CHAPTER XVL DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL 166
I. Comenius on discipline. Quotation from the " Ethics
of the Fathers." A picture of the Talmudic elementary
school. II. Severe discipline was rendered necessary
by the form of the organisation. Another cause of the
severity of discipline was the '* spirit of the times.' 1
Theories of punishment in the Bible. III. Ideas on
punishment in Talmudic times. Comparison with the
Hellenistic school. The manner of flogging. Children's
reactions to flogging. The offence of " talking." Flog-
ging as a stimulus to intellectual effort. Pupils were
expected to perform little offices for their teachers. The
story of the boy Samuel. Severity of chastisement. Illus-
trations from the Talmud. Rewards. The story of the
CHAPTER XVII. BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE'* 181
I. Introductory. Bertholet on trades and callings
amongst the ancient Hebrews. Criticism. The Bible
on the skilled craftsman ; and on the toiler in general.
The equation of " knowledge " with " virtue " was un-
known to the Bible. II. The conception of "pure"
knowledge as an ideal could only arise in a society like
that of Greece. Illustrations from Plutarch and others.
The separation between a liberal and a professional edu-
cation. III. Ben-Sira on " knowing and doing." A
Hebrew variation on a popular Greek theme. Suggested
sources of Ben-Sira 's inspiration. IV. A strong re-
action against Ben-Sira ? s views in later times. Jewish
scholars usually followed some trade. The story of
CHAPTER XVIII. ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER
I. Talmudic eulogies of labour. The difference between
the legal and the homiletical types of literature. Illus-
trations from the Talmud. II. Discords in the chorus of
praise. Reasons for these. Further illustrations from
rabbinical literature. Some Hellenistic influences. III.
Hereditary trades. The learning of a trade was an
essential part of a boy's education. Not all trades were
equally favoured. Agriculture and commerce.
CHAPTER XIX. THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 203
I. The position of the child in Bible times. Parental
love. The child as a gift from God. Children's names.
Preference for the son. The daughter was not an un-
welcome member of the family. II. " Exposing " was
not common among Jews. Child sacrifice. Other forms
of infanticide. The danger to childhood from tribal war-
fare. III. In the earlier times the child was the pro-
perty of his father. Illustrations from the Bible. The
family as the social unit. The prophets and the idea of
individual moral responsibility. Job and Ecclesiastes.
The conception of the free personality in post-temple
times. Infanticide was destroyed largely through the
spread of the Jewish view on the sanctity of life. IV.
The fundamental difference between the Jews and the
Greeks in their social ideals and in their attitude to the
child. To the Greek thinker the man was lost in the
citizen. Among the Jews individuality was never lost
sight of. Talmudic teachers on the relation of the indi-
vidual to the community.
CHAPTER XX. THE CHILD AT HOME 217
I. Ben-Sira's views on the treatment of the child. The
views of Proverbs and other biblical books. II. The
new attitude in the Talmud. Children's toys and games.
The influence of religious ceremonial and symbolism,
III. Yet the regime at home was often of a stern
nature. Frequent punishments. Illustrations from
rabbinical literature. Flogging as a '* preventive "
measure. Similar incidents among other peoples. The
relations between parents and children. * 4 Fear " and
" honour " of parents.
CHAPTER XXL THE RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL LIFE OF
THE CHILD 228
I. Religion was co-extensive with life. The child's
first years at home. " Outward " signs. Symbols de-
signed to arouse the child's curiosity. II. The festivals.
The Sabbath Pentecost N-cw Year the Day of Atone-
mentTabernacles Passover. III. The school and the
Synagogue. The community's interest in the boy's edu-
cation, '* Tell me your verse,"
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES 269
Literally, " Man of the Land." Talmudic term signifying an
ignorant, untutored person.
Talmudic name for the present form of the Hebrew alphabet.
So called because it was supposedly introduced by the returning
Babylonian captives after 536 B.C.E. It superseded the old Phoeni-
Leader of Palestinian Jewry in their final struggle for freedom
against the Romans. Killed at Bethar 135 C.E.
Literally, " Son of the Commandment." Term applied to a
Jewish boy on attaining the age of thirteen. At Barmizvah he
becomes responsible for the fulfilment of every Mizvah or Com-
mandment of the Torah.
Before Current Era. Initials employed by orthodox Jewish
custom to signify years B.C.
(Ecclesiasticus.) Author of the apocryphal work " The Wisdom
of Ben-Sira." Probably lived just before the Maccabean Era.
Current Era. Initials employed by orthodox Jews to signify
Thirteen articles by the Jewish faith formulated by Moses
Ethics of the Fathers.
A small tractate in Seder Nezikin containing ethical and moral
aphorisms of the rabbis. Contains six chapters, of which the last
is probably a post-Talmudic addition.
Day of Atonement. The climax of the Jewish penitential season
which begins on the New Year. Occurs on the loth day of Tishri
and is kept as a Fast day.
New Year. The first two days of the seventh month (Tishri) are
known as the " New Year." The term is Talmudic. The Bible
only refers to the custom of blowing the Shofar.
Passover. First of the Three Pilgrim Feasts. Celebrates the
miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage ; is
also Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Cj. Exodus xii. 1-51; Exodus xiii. 3-10; Exodus xiiL 14-19;
Lev. xxiii. 4-14 ; Num. xxviii. 16-25 ; Deut. xvi. i-S.
Pentecost (Feast of Weeks). Second of the Three Pilgrim Feasts.
Occurs exactly fifty days after the first day of Passover. Tradi-
tionally the anniversary of Sinaitic revelation. Also the biblical
Harvest and First Fruit Festival.
Cf. Exodus xxxiv. 22; Lev. xxiii. 15-21; Num. xxviii. 26-31;
Deut. xvi. 9-12.
Tabernacles. Third of the Three Pilgrim Feasts. The late
harvest festival. On it Jews commemorate their desert wander-
ings by building booths and dwelling in them. Cf. Lev. xxiii. 39-43.
Term applied to the family and descendants of Mattathias (died
166 B.C.E.), a Hasmonean priest who initiated the Jewish revolt
against Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian Emperor. His most
famous son and successor was Judah Maccabeus. Hence the name.
Most famous of Jewish philosophers and codifiers. Wrote " Guide
to the Perplexed " (a consideration of Judaism and Aristotelian
philosophy) and " Mishneh Torah " (a codification of the whole
body of Jewish Law). Born 1135 at Cordova, Spain; died 1205 at
Term applied to the biblical books, Canticles, Ruth, Lamenta-
tions, Ecclesiastes and Esther, which are publicly read on Pass-
over, Pentecost, Fast of Ab, Tabernacles and Purim respectively.
Name given to the hermeneutical process whereby the Law was
expounded. Such expositions legalistic, homiletical and folk-*
loristic later coalesced into a body of literature called Midrash*
The codification of the " Oral Law " (q.-v.) made by Judah the
Prince at the end of the second century C.E.
The period of the development of the " Oral Law." At its widest
limits it extends from Ezra, 457 B.C.E., till Judah the Prince, c.
" Oral Law."
That body of law which grew up side by side with the written
law (Pentateuch) and which was formulated and transmitted orally.
Jewish religious and political party which grew up in Palestine
in time of second temple. So called from Lev. xx. 26. Insisted
on Jewish " separateness " (Heb. PaRaS) and consecration.
Pharisaism subsequently became synonymous with traditional or
Rabbinic Judaism. Hence the additional derivation from PaRaS,
to develop or interpret the Torah.
Jewish philosopher of Alexandria, Egypt. Born c. 20-10 B.C.E.
Most important representative of Hellenistic Judaism.
RAbbi SHlomo ben Isaac ; b. 1040, died 1105. Best-known Jewish
commentator on Bible and Talmud. His commentary is printed on
the inner margin of most editions of the Babylonian Talmud.
Jewish religious and political party in Palestine in time of second
temple. Formed originally as an aristocratic or priestly party
(after Zadok a priestly family name), they became the conservative
party, opposing the innovations in and interpretations of Jewish
Law made by the Pharisees.
Deut. vi. 4-9; xi. 13-21; and Num. xv. 37-41.
These three paragraphs are named after the first word in the
Hebrew text and are the declaration of faith recited by Jews in the
morning and evening prayers.
From Hebrew root SPHR. A man who wrote scrolls of the law
and/ or one who taught the Book of the Law (SePHeR Torah).
Supreme Jewish Legal and Religious Council. Existed in Tal-
mudic times. Its president was called the Nassi or Prince.
Literally, "learning" or "knowledge"; indicates the work
comprising the Mishnah (q.v.) plus the commentary on and ex-
position of the Mishnah known as the GeMaRa. Redacted 499 C.E.
Properly the Mishnaic period plus the period from 200 C.E. till
499 C.E., but sometimes refers to the latter period only. See Appen-
The renderings of Scripture into Aramaic, of which the most
famous are those of Onkelos and of Jonathan b. Uzziel.
Originally "The Five Books of Moses," but later the word was
extended to include the whole of Jewish Law and Tradition.
I. Jewish education is passed over In silence, or only incident-
ally referred to, in general educational literature. Examples
from Monroe, Cubberley and Boyd. II. The reasons for this
attitude. III. Jewish education is entitled to a place in the
general story of education. The length of its history. The
school as the largest single factor in Jewish life. The achieve-
ments of Jewish education in Palestine in modern times.
THIS work is an effort at a systematic and critical study of
the classical period in Jewish education. In it an attempt
will be made to describe the form and content of the early
Jewish school and its social and religious backgound. At
the same time it will be shown that Jewish education did
not develop in isolation from the general movement of
educational thought and practice; but that its growth was
affected by other systems, which, in their turn, were in-
fluenced by Jewish thought, even though indirectly.
The author realises the difficulty of the task he set him-
self, inasmuch as until now general educational literature
has either entirely passed over in silence, or only incident-
ally referred to, Jewish education. Thus, for example, we
find that Monroe's "Text-book in the History of Educa-
tion" devotes 160 out of 760 pages to Greek and Roman
education; 33 to Chinese education, which is regarded as
typical of Oriental education in general ; but not one line to
either ancient or modern Jewish education. 1
The two companion volumes by Cubberley contain
between them over 1,500 pages, covering the whole range
of the history of education from the days of ancient Greece
down to most recent times. But the author does not con-
sider it necessary to give more than two pages to the his-
tory, religion and education of the Jews combined; and
one other page to a collection of maxims from the Talmud.
Even these scraps are obviously included not for their own
sake, but by way of preliminary to the study of early
Christian education. 2
To take a final example, Dr. Boyd's " History of Western
Education" contains a short chapter of ten pages on
Jewish education. The Jewish school is regarded as merely
an aspect of Greek education and is denied any claim to
originality. Yet in spite of, or perhaps rather because of
that, these few pages are amongst the most suggestive and
stimulating to be found on the subject in general literature.
It is, however, " a drop out of a bucket," which only serves
to whet the appetite of the student. The reason for this
treatment is not far to seek, for here, too, Jewish education
is taken note of not because of any intrinsic merit it may
possess, but mainly on account of "the influence of the
Old Testament upon our ideas on the upbringing of chil-
This is typical of the attitude of historians in general.
Jewish education, like Persian or Babylonian education, is
regarded as a thing of the past. It may arouse a mild form
of purely historic interest; at best it may throw some light
on the development of early Christian education. It has
little or nothing to teach the modern student.
The author dares to express the hope that the following
chapters may lead to some modification of attitude towards
the Jewish school system. For the time being it will be
sufficient to make a few preliminary remarks. The fact
that Jewish education has so far received no attention is
not by itself sufficient proof that it deserves none* Thex*e
are many reasons to explain why it is generally passed over
in silence. The most important of these is of a purely
technical nature. The material on the origin and early
history of the Jewish school is scattered throughout the
vast and not easily accessible rabbinical literature.
Again, in later ages Jewish education, like the com-
munity that brought it into being, lost its territorial, if
not its spiritual, unity, and it became impossible to trace
the history of the school without at the same time follow-
ing the fortunes of the people in their almost endless
wanderings. There is little wonder that historians shrank
from such a task.
Another reason may be found in the curious fact that
the Jews themselves showed very little interest in the his-
tory of their school an institution which they never tired
of eulogising. As a well-known scholar somewhat naively
puts it: The Jews were so much preoccupied with the
actual business of education that they found no time to*
write about it. The Talmud itself, in spite of the fact that
it has something to tell us about every conceivable thing
no matter how trifling it might appear, does not contain
one complete page entirely devoted to education, its his-
tory, organisation, or methods. And at the present time
we are still waiting for a history of Jewish education which
should satisfy the demands of the modern student used to
scientific methods. These circumstances alone seem quite
sufficient to explain, and to a large extent even to excuse,
the scanty attention given to the subject in general educa-
However, the extent of its history should by itself entitle
the Jewish school to a place in the story of education. It
has a longer record of continuous existence than any school
in Europe probably in the world. Beginning somewhere
in the sixth century B.C.K, it has continued without a break
down to the present day. It was the contemporary of the
Greek, and saw the rise and decline of the Roman school.
For a considerable period, from the fourth to the eighth
century C.E., it was the only regularly functioning educa-
tional institution in a practically school-less world. It lived
through the movements of the Renaissance and the Re-
formation, and was deeply affected by the educational
developments brought about by the Industrial Revolution
and the consequent democratisation of society.
Nor are the achievements of Jewish education of a negli-
gible order. If formal education, or the school, may be
described as the chief means by which a people seeks to
preserve and advance its collective life, then the work of
the Jewish school is wellnigh unique.
The survival of the Jew under conditions of unparalleled
adversity is a riddle to some, a miracle to others. It is in
reality neither. It is mainly the result of a successful
system of education, extraordinarily adequate alike for the
needs of the individual as of the community. Religion,
economics, politics all played their part in the story of the
Jew, but we shall never get to the heart of that story unless
we realise that the school was the largest single factor in
Jewish life, equal in importance to all the rest combined.
In the absence of the usual attributes of national life
political independence, territorial segregation, even com-
munity of language education became the focus of all
the vital powers of the people, supplying the content as
well as the form for its collective life. And it accom-
plished its task with a success to which history knows few
parallels. Judaism in the widest sense religion, the Bible
and post-biblical literature, the Jewish way of life all owe
their preservation ultimately to the work of the school
Nor is it all a story of the past. The remarkable achieve-
ments of Jewish education in Palestine during the past
half-century show that it has not yet lost either its vitality
or its creative energy. It is one of the most daring and
successful experiments in the history of education. Fifty
years ago, although it was still a literary medium for edu-
cated Jews, Hehrew was nowhere a spoken language.
There was not a man in the whole world who considered
it his vernacular; there was not a teacher who knew how
to use it for the teaching of a simple sum in arithmetic.
Today it is the spoken language of the Jewish population
in Palestine. There are many thousands of the young
generation to whom it is the only medium of expression.
It is, besides, along with English and Arabic, one of the
recognised official languages of the country, Before our
own eyes there has taken place the resurrection of a lan-
guage and a literature and the development of a school
system from the kindergarten to the university. It would
be a mistake to regard this modern phase of Jewish educa-
tion as a clean break with the past. It is rather to be con-
sidered the culmination of a system which, amidst all ex-
ternal changes, has succeeded in preserving an essential
unity. And the foundations for that unity were laid in
those early days, more than two thousand years ago, when
education as a social institution first appeared on the stage
of Jewish history.
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION
I. The Jewish school came into being as the result of a long
process of gradual growth. There is no mention of the school
in the Bible; nor of regular formal education of children.
Illustrations from the stories of biblical heroes. The practical
training of the child. II. Formal education in the Bible.
The Paradise story. The priests, elders and judges. The
idea of teaching and learning in the modern sense first ap-
peared with the emergence of literary prophecy. III. The
circumstances leading up to the rise of the Synagogue. The
priest and the prophet. The Babylonian captivity. The Syna-
gogue as a school for adults ; and as a means of indirect edu-
cation for children. The early teachers. The Hellenistic
period. Schools for youths. The Roman wars. The rise of
the publicly organised and publicly controlled elementary school.
Three stages in the development of the school.
THE modern student hardly needs reminding that a school
system, like any other social institution, does not spring
into existence, out of nothing as it were, by the fiat of some
authority. The Jewish popular school came into "being
as the result of a long process of gradual growth, the
beginnings of which are lost in obscurity. Nor is this
process to be thought of as a smooth, steady upward curve.
Again and again it was either retarded or accelerated by
the play of social, economic and political forces within and
without the community. Yet it is possible to trace a fairly
continuous line of development from the earliest ages,
when formal education was an unknown thing, down to
the time when the popular school became a fully estab-
lished social institution.
Neither the Hebrew Bible, nor even the New Testament,
4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
contains any mention of the elementary school. It seems
quite safe to say that as a public institution such a school
did not exist during the whole period covered by biblical
literature. 1 * In the latter part of that period it may be
assumed that many children, especially boys, received
some form of literary instruction. As a rule the father
was the instructor, but sometimes private teachers, Jewish,
and even non-Jewish, as will be shown later, were engaged
for the purpose. Such individual teachers might set up
" schools " of a sort in their own homes, or occasionally in
some public place, after the manner of classical Athens.f
These schools were the private affairs of their owners,
and received no support from the community, nor were
they subject to any control by it as far as the content
and form of education were concerned. They were re-
garded by the law as any other trading concerns, and
such was also the attitude to them of their neighbours,
who, it would seem, did not always welcome them into
their midst. 2 The publicly controlled elementary school
for children did not come into being until after the period
of the Bible.
But, quite apart from schools, the Bible hardly contains
a reference to the regular education of children, if educa-
tion is to be understood in its modern sense. There are
indeed numerous injunctions about "telling," "relating
to" and "teaching" children. These were interpreted
by later generations as referring to formal elementary
education which had then already become a recognised
social institution. Thus the well-known verses in Deu-
teronomy, "and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy
children," "and you shall teach them to your children,"
* Notes are grouped under chapters at the end of the book.
t The school which Herod attended ("Ant.," 15-10-5) may
be assumed to have been of this type, and Its curriculum probably
included secular as well as religious subjects.
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 5
were made the religious basis of Jewish elementary educa-
tion, and are still regarded so by Jews. 3
Similarly such verses in the story of the Exodus as " and
thou shalt relate to thy son," or, " and it shall come to
pass when thy son ask thee," serve as the foundation for
the Passover-eve home service in which the child is assigned
a central function. 4 But a careful examination will leave
little, if any, doubt that these passages deal in a general
way with the transmitting of tradition from generation to
generation, and that such expressions as " children " or
" sons " usually mean the " next generation " in general. 5
It is significant that in the numerous stories of the biblical
heroes and their early childhood we never find a mention
of literary education as forming part of their upbringing.
Thus, for instance, the story of Jacob and Esau. The
children grew up, one becoming a hunter, the other a
shepherd, occupations for which they were trained by
actual participation in the life and work of the family, but
no mention of any other form of education. And so also
with Joseph. At seventeen he is a shepherd among his
brothers, the ordinary primitive training which a child
picks up by imitation, or is taught by the family, but there
is no reference to any form of book learning, or even of
regular moral and religious instruction. The same applies
to Moses or David, or any of the other popular figures.
People among whom these stories arose and circulated
could hardly have reached such a conception as formal
education for the young.
In the period following the Roman wars and the destruc-
tion of the second temple, when education became the
main content of Jewish life, taking the place of the political
institutions of which the people were deprived, the life
stories of those early heroes were retold in accordance with
the demands of the new situation. Shem, the eldest son of
Noah, became in Jewish lore the founder of an academy
6 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
for the study of the Torah which counted among its
students both Isaac and his son Jacob, who studied there
for fourteen years and later on transmitted his knowledge
to Joseph. Even David was made to spend his time in the
" House of study " in discussions about details of ritual and
On the other hand, the practical training of the child,
religious and social, is as old as the family itself. Indeed,
the development of the family as a social institution was
due to a large extent to the need for protecting the child
and equipping him for the life that awaited him. As
among other peoples so also among the Jews, this training
was in the form of direct sharing in the activities of the
family and through it in that of the community. Trades
were hereditary in the whole of the ancient world, a prac-
tice which has not entirely died out even now. As to direct
religious training, the Bible furnishes us with numerous
examples. We read, for instance, of children going with
their parents to the sanctuaries, or of mothers teaching their
daughters lamentations for the dead. 7 A vivid illustration
of practical religious training by direct participation may
be found in Jeremiah: children collecting wood; the
fathers kindling the fire; and the mothers kneading the
dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven. 8
The child occupies a prominent place in biblical litera-
ture. We see him in various roles : as a victim of tribal
warfare, or an object of the lawgiver's solicitude; we see
him at work, we see him at play; but never do we find him
engaged in study.
Literary education for children was uncommon during
most of the biblical period; it began to claim recognition
only when that period was drawing toward its close.
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 7
The position of elementary education in Bible times will
be more clearly understood when it is viewed in the wider
context of the position of formal education in general. In
its very first pages the Bible shows us indirectly, but none
the less clearly, what the attitude to learning, knowledge,
or wisdom was in the earliest times. Thus, for instance,
the Paradise story, approached from an educational angle.
There is a wistfulness about this story, a yearning after
some " golden era " of the past, gone never to return. In
those days, so the people dreamt, there was no hard work,
" in the sweat of the brow," and the earth was not yet so
reluctant to yield up its fruit. Nor was it necessary for
man to be constantly on his guard against the ferocity of
the beast; there was peace between him and the animal
kingdom. Life was simple and happy. Man needed only
to tend the trees in the garden; and as to water it flowed
in abundance. Now all this is changed. Why? All be-
cause man arrogantly began to reach out after knowledge,
which belongs to the gods. The only "benefit" brought
by knowledge is the need for clothes, which is not con-
sidered a mark of progress, or a step leading in the direc-
tion of greater happiness. This story reflects the mood of
an age, in the remote past, when education, learning of any
kind beyond that needed in the simple life of the primi-
tive peasant, was regarded as suspect, even harmful. Later
ages merely repeated it, or read into it their own ideas
without suspecting its original implications, but even the
mere repetition is not without its significance.
Teaching of a kind there was even in the earliest times,
but this was of an entirely practical nature: advice,
guidance, and direction as required by immediate needs.
There were laws and customs and statutes handed down
from generation to generation. These were in the keeping
8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
of the priests, to whom one could apply in case of need.
We find in the Bible concrete cases, mainly in matters
between man and God, in which the guidance of the priests
was sought. 9
There were also elders and judges who decided in
matters arising between man and his neighbour, and seers
or prophets who " divined " or had " visions." 10 Wherever
there are " codes " and " statutes " some form of teaching
is implied, regular or occasional, for their preservation and
interpretation. Such teaching was no doubt carried on
within the priestly caste, the priests thus being the first
teachers in Israel; but it is most unlikely that it extended
to children. Similarly, within the prophetic order the
forms and methods of their work were taught to younger
members the " sons of the prophets." As we know from
the Bible, there were at times as many as a hundred sitting
before one teacher. These were what may be called the
first schools in Israel.
But as to the mass of the people the concept of educa-
tion, of teaching and learning as a continuous process un-
connected with immediate practical needs, hardly existed
in the earlier times. There was as yet no regular term to
denote either learning or teaching. Instead, it is usually
"commanding," "warning," "showing," or "declaring." 11
The idea of education first appeared with the emergence of
prophecy from " seeing " or " divination " into preaching,
exhorting, and teaching. It is in the Book of Deuteronomy
that the primitive ideas of "guiding" or "instructing"
definitely gave place to the conceptions of teaching and
learning in the modern sense: education had arrived. 12
As yet it was not a regular form of social activity; nor was
there any clear appreciation of the value of formal educa-
tion for children; a long time was to pass before this ulti-
mate phase of development was reached. But once the
idea had emerged it was inevitable that it should seek its
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 9
realisation through a suitable social institution. Such an
institution, the Synagogue, came into being as a result of
the political and spiritual crisis of the Babylonian cap-
The circumstances leading up to the rise of this institu-
tion may be described as follows. Before the fall of Jeru-
salem in 586 B.C.E. there were two spiritual tendencies,
sharply antagonistic, struggling for supremacy in the life
of the Jewish community. There was the priest, represent-
ing the static element, with his realistic views on life, his
minute ceremonialism and sacrificial ritual, centred round
temple and shrine, with his religious outlook, strongly
local and tribal. But there was also the prophet, repre-
senting the dynamic element, with his stubborn refusal to
submit to facts, his vehement demands for a new heaven
and a new earth, and his lofty universalism recognising
neither national divisions nor territorial boundaries. Then
came the crisis of 586 B.C.E. The temple was destroyed and
the upper classes taken into captivity to Babylon. The
whole priestly world was laid in ruins at one stroke. There
was neither temple, nor shrine, nor sacrificial ceremonial.
The fate of Judaism hung in the balance.
It was then that the people, in their extreme necessity,
began to turn to the teachings of the prophets. In these
they found consolation in the present as well as hope for
the future. And as a result of this change of heart there
arose a new institution, which, in its freedom from the re-
strictions of time and place and caste, was an expression of
the universalism of Prophecy the Synagogue. This did
not signify the immediate displacement of the priestly by
the prophetic outlook : for centuries synagogue service and
temple ritual were carried on side by side. It was an
attempt, under stress of external circumstances, at a higher
io THE JEWISH SCHOOL
synthesis of the two, which was not achieved until after
the final downfall of the political state as a result of the
disastrous Roman wars.
The Synagogue, "the greatest practical achievement of
the Jewish people/' 13 in the words of a well-known scholar,
was the " forerunner of the Church and the Mosque," but
it was also, what is important for the history of education,
the first school for adults, or popular university. People
would come together, perhaps once a week on the Sabbath,
and one more learned than the others would read and ex-
plain some passages from the Scriptures. The liturgy grew
up gradually around the instruction which must have been
at first the chief purpose of these meetings. 14 The teach-
ing of children at that period, and indeed for long after-
wards, was still entirely in the hands of the parents. But
even in its earliest form the Synagogue supplied an im-
portant means of indirect education for them. For the
children would accompany their elders on their visits to
those religious gatherings, and there they would listen to
the discourses and learn to join in the prayers, thus being
gradually initiated into the life of the community. 15
From an early period Jewish religious ceremonial, as will
be shown later, had as one of its principal aims this prac-
tical education of the child, and was designed largely with
a view to appealing to his imagination and arousing his
interest in the religious and social institutions of his people.
To the early post-exilic period belong the first hesitating
efforts at the creation of an elementary educational ter-
minology. The teacher is referred to as " one who causes
to understand," or "to be wise" "mevin," "maskil"
words which failed to win wide acceptance; but there is
also a tentative use of the term which permanently estab-
lished itself in Jewish education " melammed "; and the
pupil is denoted by a word which has remained in general
use down to the present day "talmid." 16 The earliest
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 11
teachers were apparently sent out from Jerusalem to travel
from place to place with copies of the " book of the law."
Their method was- to read and explain passages from Scrip-
ture a method which remained fundamental in the Jewish
school throughout the ages. 17 It was in that period, too,
that the new "Assyrian" alphahet was adopted for
Hebrew, a reform which greatly facilitated the spread of
literacy. This was the beginning of Jewish popular educa-
Two centuries later Palestine, as part of the Persian
empire, came for the first time into actual contact with
Hellenism when that empire was conquered by the armies
of Alexander the Great. The Jewish people were dazzled
by the splendours of the new culture. The Greek language
and literature, Greek institutions, customs, and practices
spread among the upper classes of the community, and the
foundations of Judaism, of the Jewish way of life, were
profoundly shaken. Then came the inevitable reaction.
The Jews displayed a power of resistance to the Hellenistic
rulers which must have been unexpected by them. The
educational activities of the preceding two centuries had
brought about a remarkable spiritual transformation,
especially amongst the common people. The Maccabean
revolt against Syria resulted in the establishment of an in-
dependent Jewish state which lasted for two-thirds of a
century. The Greeks were expelled; Hellenistic influences
could not be eradicated. The first Hasmonean to assume
the royal crown was named Aristobulus and called himself
Philhellen. But Judaism was then already strong enough
to be able to take from Hellenism all that it found useful
without endangering its future development.
At that time, it would appear, a new stage was reached
in the growth of Jewish popular education with the founda-
tion of schools for youths of sixteen and seventeen. We
know little of the organisation of these schools, but it seems
12 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
likely that their establishment was due to the initiative of
Simon the son of Shetah, the leader of the Pharisees, who
was, perhaps, the brother of Queen Salome Alexandra. 18
The aim of the new educational institution seems to have
been the promotion of the teaching of the Pharisees, and
the subject-matter was most likely the interpretation of the
Scriptures according to the tradition of the Oral Law. The
method of study, as seen later in the Talmud, was not un-
like that of the Greek rhetorical school for instance, the
practice of arguing on both sides of a case. Before the
Maccabean wars, it should be remembered, the purely
Greek gymnasium for youths had already made its appear-
ance in Jerusalem. 19 It is therefore not unreasonable to
assume that the rise of the Jewish school for youths owed
something to Hellenistic influence, to which it was partly
intended to act as an antidote.
From this it was but a short and an inevitable step to the
elementary school for young children. Private, fee-paying
schools, set up by individual teachers, Jewish and even
non-Jewish, gradually spread through the country. Public
control and organisation did not come until after the
Roman wars, which resulted in the destruction of the
Jewish political state. This was a turning-point in the his-
tory of Judaism; it brought the development of Jewish
popular education to its final stage: the establishment of
the publicly organised and publicly controlled elementary
Elementary education after that spread very rapidly,
until by the fourth century C.E. it became practically uni-
versal; at any rate, as far as boys were concerned. In the
course of a discussion between two scholars of the middle
of the fourth century C.E., one of them asks : " Is it possible
to find anyone without elementary school knowledge?"
The other answers : " Yes, it is possible with a child who
was taken captive among non-Jews." 20
THE RISE OF JEWISH EDUCATION 13
It will thus be seen that the development of Jewish
popular education was marked by three definite stages:
the rise of the Synagogue during, or soon after, the Baby-
lonian captivity; the establishment of schools for youths in
the period following the Maccabean wars; and the founda-
tion of the public elementary school after the destruction
of the second temple by the Romans and the downfall of
the political state. In each case, it will be noticed, an ex-
ternal political event served as a stimulus to accelerate the
process of inner development. Popular education began
with the teaching of adults, gradually extending down-
wards until, after six or seven hundred years, it reached
the child. But once fully established it continued along
essentially the same lines, without a break, down to the
end of the eighteenth century.
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
I. Evidence for the existence of the elementary school out-
side Talmudic literature. Direct evidence in Talmudic litera-
ture. The tradition about Joshua ben Gamala ; its interpreta-
tion as an historical outline of the development of elementary
education. II. The current view on the rise of the elemen-
tary school. Illustration from Professor Klausner's " His-
tory." Criticism of the current view. III. Did " compul-
sory " and " universal " education ever exist among the Jews?
Evidence against it. The illiterate class. Schools were still
uncommon in the second century C.E. The idea of the father
as the teacher was deeply rooted. The gradual shifting of the
conception of education from the individual to the social plane.
The lack of educational facilities in the third century C.E. The
story of Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Hiyya. Moral persuasion
instead of legal compulsion. General elementary education
was accomplished about the fourth century C.E.
THE story of the rise and development of the Jewish
popular school system, and particularly of the elementary
school, presented in the preceding pages, is radically
different from the current view and seems to require
further substantiation before it can hope to win acceptance.
It is necessary, in the first place, to consider the evidence
bearing on the subject.
Outside Talmudic literature there is no direct evidence
as to the rise of the elementary school.
Certain passages from Philo and Josephus figure promi-
nently in the writings of historians, who regard them as
proving the existence of an almost universal school system
in Palestine before the destruction of the second temple.
Philo says : " Since the Jews esteem their laws as divine
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 15
revelations and are instructed in the knowledge of them
from their earliest youth, they bear the image of the law
in their souls." Josephus is more explicit: "We take
most pains of all with the instruction of children, and
esteem the observation of the laws and the piety corre-
sponding with them the most important affair of our whole
life." And again: "He [Moses] commanded to instruct
children in the elements of knowledge, to teach them to
walk according to the laws, and to know the deeds of their
One cannot fail to note that these passages are of an
obviously apologetic character, and that they contain no
mention of schools. The most natural interpretation is
that they refer to parental training of children in religious
observances. This form of education was at all times an
important element in Jewish social and religious life, but
it was not necessarily of a formal character, nor did it
always include such a subject as, for instance, reading,
especially when the father himself could not do it. In
Rome, too, we are told, after 450 B.C.E. every boy had to
learn the laws of the twelve tables and to be able to explain
their meaning. But up to about 300 B.C.E. education there
had been entirely confined to the home. 2 In the aristocratic
circles to which both Philo and Josephus belonged it may be
assumed that this domestic training was of a more thorough-
going character and included also secular subjects, such as
Greek literature and philosophy, for which private teachers
were engaged. 3 At any rate these general statements are
too vague to admit the inference of the existence of an
organised popular school system.
Even in Talmudic literature the direct evidence as to the
beginnings of the elementary school is extremely scanty.
There is a tradition, consisting of a single line, stating that
" Simon the son of Shetah arranged that children should
go to school." No further details are given as to the
16 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
nature of the "school," its organisation, or its scope of
work. The only other tradition on the origin of the school
is contained in a well-known passage which may be re-
garded as the most important direct evidence in our pos-
" Truly that man is to be remembered for good Joshua
ben Gainala is his name but for whom the Torah 4 would
have been forgotten among Israel. Because formerly he
who had a father was taught by him the Torah; but he
who had no father did not learn it. How did they explain
it? 'And you shall teach them ' was interpreted to mean
'and you yourselves shall teach/ 5 Then it was arranged
that teachers of children should be placed in Jerusalem,
How did they explain it? ' For out of Zion shall go forth
the Torah/ 6 And still he who had a father was taken up
by him to Jerusalem to be taught; he who had no father
did not go up to learn. Then it was arranged that teachers
should be placed in every district and that the pupils
should be admitted at the age of sixteen or seventeen.
But he with whom his teacher got angry rebelled and left.
Until Joshua ben Gamala came and arranged that teachers
should be placed in every province and in every city, and
that the pupils should be admitted at the age of six or
It will be noticed that these traditions apparently give
different founders for the school : according to the first, it
was Simon ben Shetah, said to be the brother of Queen
Salome, who reigned from 76 to 67 B.C.E.; according to the
second, it was Joshua ben Gamala, the High Priest who
lived a hundred and twenty-five years later. But the con-
tradiction, which some writers are at pains to reconcile,
seems to be merely imaginary. It is more reasonable to
regard the two reports as complementary to one another.
The second takes up the story where it was left by the first
and carries it a step further. 8
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 17
For a number o reasons it would not be safe to treat this
latter tradition as a strictly historical document, especially
as far as practical detail is concerned. Joshua ben Gamala,
it should be remembered, occupied the office of High Priest
just before the Roman war, a time of social and political
upheaval. It would be difficult to think of a less suitable
period for the institution of such a reform as elementary
education on a wide scale. Another reason which makes
the literal historicity of this important document some-
what doubtful is that they in whose name it is recorded
lived almost two hundred years after Joshua ben Gamala. 9
And yet we may see in it a fairly correct historical out-
line of the development of elementary education. Begin-
ning with the earliest period, when children's education
was entirely of a domestic nature, it goes on to the estab-
lishment of schools for youths. This, as we are told in the
other tradition, took place in the time of Simon ben Shetah,
when the Pharisees regained power. From there it pro-
ceeds to elementary education, the beginning of which is
placed towards the end of the second temple period.
According to the view advanced in the preceding chapter
the growth of the elementary school was a very gradual
process. Its real development as a public institution began
after the destruction of the temple, and the period of its
most rapid spread came with the downfall of Bar-Kochba
in 135 C.E. By the fourth century C.E. the process of
development reached its completion with the elementary
school for boys as a publicly organised and controlled
A fairly typical statement of the current view on the rise
of the elementary school will be found in Professor
Klausner's "History" (" Historiyyah Yisreelith "). In
volume three of his " History " we read :
i8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
" Simon ben Shetah arranged that children should go to
school. The word for school * Beth-hasepher ' is formed
in the spirit of the Hebrew language and is so natural that
we are forced to assume that it was coined at the latest in
the Hasmonean period, when Hebrew was generally re-
vived. It is therefore almost certain that the word, together
with the institution, was created by Simon ben Shetah.
Until his time the fathers used to teach their own chil-
dren ... or the Synagogue officials 'Hazzan' 10 who
either went about from house to house or got them
together in the Synagogue in a casual way. But in the
days of the Hasmoneans, when the Pharisees had the
management of internal affairs, they took measures to
spread a knowledge of the Torah by the institution of
popular schools. As Simon was at the head of the Phari-
sees, he was the founder of the Jewish school, ... It is
clear to me that Simon was the founder of the popular
school in Jerusalem, and, perhaps towards the end of his
life, also in all the important provincial towns; and Joshua
ben Gamala, who served as High Priest for a little over a
year, instituted such schools in every province and in
every town." 11
The development of the school according to this was
therefore somewhat as follows : At first irregular teaching
in the Synagogue, or at home, by the Synagogue official;
then the establishment by Simon of popular schools in
Jerusalem and other large towns, presumably as in-
dependent institutions, apart from the Synagogues.
Nothing further is said as to the organisation or nature of
In volume four of his "History," Professor Klausner
returns to the subject and becomes a little more explicit :
"The establishment of schools in the time of Simon was
restricted to Jerusalem alone. But Joshua ben Gamala
arranged that teachers should be placed in every province
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 19
and in every town and that children should be admitted at
the age of six or seven. The school was apparently con-
nected with the Synagogue, and Josephus " who does not
mention Joshua as the author of this reform "did not
understand that at the same time when the destruction of
the political state was brought about by the high priests, one
of their number, Joshua, prepared for the salvation of the
people by the institution of a universal education system,
the first in the world. , . ." Joshua ben Gamala's period
of office, it will be remembered, fell between 63-65 C.E.,
when the dark shadows of the Roman war were already
hanging low over Palestine, and when the conditions for
educational reforms could hardly be more unfavourable.
As to Simon, it is difficult to realise that all the talk of his
educational activities is based on a single line in Talmudic
tradition, unsupported from anywhere else, except by such
general statements as those quoted from Philo and
Josephus which are taken to prove the universality of edu-
cation among Jews in early times.
Other writers on the subject differ in details. Some, like
Klausner, speak of " universal " education, presumably in-
vesting the term with its usual connotation; or else using
it in a loose manner. Others speak vaguely of " children "
in general. Still others mention only boys. But they all
exhibit a remarkable unanimity as to the establishment by
some authority of a compulsory system of education, that
authority more usually taken to be Joshua ben Gamala. 12
This generally accepted view that a system of popular
education, compulsory and "universal," whatever this latter
term may be intended to express, was introduced among
Jews by some authority before the destruction of the
second temple shows a curious lack of historic perspective;
20 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
it is the projection of a modem idea into a time and a set
of conditions where it could not fit. Compulsory educa-
tion in the modern sense never existed among the Jews,
nor, for that matter, amongst any other people in ancient
times. Sparta was the only possible exception, but there it
would be more correct to speak of military conscription for
boys over the age of seven than of compulsory education. 13
The whole weight of indirect evidence is against this view.
All the evidence for it is contained in the Talmudic tradi-
tion, already dealt with, which mentions Joshua ben
Gamala as the founder of the elementary school. But that
tradition does not contain a word about the compulsory
attendance of all or any children; it merely speaks of the
provision of educational facilities. The position was very
likely similar to that of pre-war Russia, for instance. There,
too, facilities for education were provided in towns and
some villages; these were lamentably inadequate, and large
numbers of people, in fact the great majority, either would
not or could not avail themselves of them.
That large numbers of children, both in Palestine and
Babylonia, did not attend schools in the period under dis-
cussion is abundantly clear from the picture presented to
us in Talmudic literature. The existence of the unedu-
cated, or illiterate class the " am-haarez " and the social
and religious abyss between them and the adherents of the
Pharisees, is in itself sufficient to destroy any idea of " com-
pulsory " and " universal *' education among Jews of those
times. The contempt, even the hate, which is so often
apparent in the relations of the educated to the "am-
haarez " reminds one strongly of the arrogant attitude of
the Hellene towards the Barbarian, or even to the Helot.
According to a famous rabbi of the second century C.E.,
" One is obliged to say three blessings every day : ' Who
has not made me a heathen; who has not made me a
woman; who has not made me an " am-haarez." ' " I. H.
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 21
Weiss hears in that an echo of the practice of Socrates to
thank God every day for his having been born a human
being and not an animal, a man and not a woman, a Greek
and not a Barbarian. 14 And the " am-haarez," we are told
on good authority, did not give his children an education.
There was nobody to compel him to do it. 15
Even in the second century C.E. schools were not at all
common, and teaching was mainly done by the father if
he were able to do it. Rabbi Akiba, the greatest scholar of
his time and the spiritual leader during the Bar-Kochba
rebellion, when speaking on the teaching of children, says
simply and naturally : " When thou teachest thy son, teach
him out of a well-corrected book." 16 The idea that it was
the father's duty to teach his sons was deeply rooted and
held its ground long after the school had become a recog-
nised institution. " It is the father's duty to teach his son "
is the plain statement of the Mishnah, and we find that
this was the practice of various scholars in later ages. 17 In
this connection the following is rather significant: "It is
well known to Him who has created the world by His
word that the son fears his father more than his mother,
because it is the father who teaches him the Torah." This
practice was largely responsible for the existence of the
illiterate class at a time when Jewish learning had already
reached a high stage of development.
On the other hand, there are numerous passages in
Talmudic literature whose apparent purpose seems to have
been to counteract this practice and to emphasise the social
side of education. The following are typical examples:
" He who studies the Torah, but does not teach it to others,
of him it is said, 'He despised the word of the Lord.'"
"He who learns for the sake of teaching others, will be
given the opportunity both to learn and to teach." " He
who teachers the Torah to his friend's son, it is reckoned
to him as if he had given him birth." "And thou shalt
22 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
teach them to thy children this is to be interpreted, * To
thy pupils/ For thus you find everywhere that pupils are
called ' children/ as it is said, ' You are children to the Lord
your God/" The teacher was acting vicariously for the
father. 18 One can trace in these sayings the shifting of the
conception of education from the individual to the social
plane and the gradual emergence of the school as a publicly
Even in the third century and later there were com-
munities where no facilities existed for elementary educa-
tion. This appears quite clearly from such statements as
the following, all emanating from that period : " A scholar
is not permitted to live in a town where there are no ele-
mentary teachers." Or, "Any town where there are no
schools is to be destroyed/' The well-known saying by a
scholar of the third century that Jerusalem was destroyed
because school-children were kept idle there quite obviously
was prompted by the state of affairs in his own time. 19
The following report of a discussion between two rabbis
of that period throws rather an instructive light on the
state of education in Palestine and deserves translation in
" When Rabbi Hanina and Rabbi Hiyya had an argu-
ment, Rabbi Hanina said, ' How can you argue with me?
If the Torah, God forbid, were forgotten in Israel, I would
restore it by my dialectic powers/ Said Rabbi Hyya, ' How
can you argue with me? I am preventing the Torah from
being forgotten in Israel. I go and plant flax and weave
nets and catch gazelles. Their flesh I give to orphans for
food; of the skins I make scrolls on which I write out the
five books of Moses. Then I go up to a town where there
are no teachers for children and teach five boys to read the
five books, each one a different book. Similarly I teach six
boys the six volumes of the Mishnah, and I say to them,
" Until I come back let every one of you teach to his fellow
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 33
the reading of Ms book of the Pentateuch, or his volume
of the Mishnah." * " 30 Such was the position in a com-
munity amongst whom, we are told, " compulsory " and
" universal " education had been introduced some centuries
Generations after Joshua ben Gamala the rabbis found it
necessary to insist strongly on the importance of " starting
young." "He who studies in childhood, what can he be
likened to? To ink written on new paper. But he who
studies in old age, what is he like to? To ink written on
blotted paper." This is amplified elsewhere, in apt similes,
by various scholars of the first and second centuries c.E. 21
All this would have had no point if education had been
anything like general, let alone " compulsory " and " uni-
versal." It seems clear that the contrary was true. Many
people started late; many more had their education alto-
gether neglected. In the absence of legal compulsion,
moral persuasion was resorted to. A continuous and power-
ful appeal was made to the religious feelings of the people.
Success came only very gradually and slowly; but when it
did come and general education was accomplished, about
the fourth century C.E., it rested on a surer foundation than
any law enacted by public authority could have given it.
That was the conviction of the individual Jew that educa-
tion was the most essential condition for the survival of
Judaism, the way of life in which all his religious and
social ideals found their expression.
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION
I. The legal position of the woman in early times. The
father's power over his daughter. The husband's power over
his wife. The woman's social position. The mother. Out-
standing women in almost every walk of life. Conjugal affec-
tion. Illustrations from the Bible, The period of the second
temple. Proverbs, chap. xxxi. Prominent women in fact and
fiction. The education of girls in those times. II. The
gradual deterioration of the woman's social position. Hellen-
istic influence. Ecclesiastes. The transformation of Jewish
life after the Roman wars. Leadership of learning. Educa-
tion closed to the woman. The social and religious life of the
woman in Talmudic times. Illustrations from rabbinical
literature. Woman in early Christianity.
To see the question of the education of the girl in its
proper context, it is necessary to consider the position of
the woman in general in the period with which we are
The legal position of the woman among the early
Hebrews, as amongst other contemporary peoples, was an
unenviable one. Before her marriage she was the property
of her father, who could sell her into marriage or into
slavery. A special prohibition was needed to save her from
the worse fate of being sold into prostitution. 1 It is true
the father had the same power over his son, but there is
little doubt that it was the daughter on whom it was
more often exercised, although her monetary value was
apparently lower. 3 One need only read the gruesome story
of Judges xix. to realise the extent of the father's authority
as well as of the helplessness of the daughter. 3 Instead of
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 25
speaking of the power of the father over his daughter, it
would, however, be more correct to speak of the authority
of man over woman in general. For marriage, except in
special circumstances, did not necessarily mean an im-
provement in the girl's lot. As often as not it might
amount only to a change of ownership. The wife was the
purchased property of her hushand, who was her lord and
master, as is shown by the very Hebrew term, "Baal," by
which he is commonly denoted. Even a woman of out-
standing beauty and personality, when asked in marriage,
consented by saying: "Behold thine handmaid is a ser-
vant to wash the feet of the slaves of my lord/' 4
Already in the story of the creation the woman is told in
so many words : " And he shall rule over thee/' And in
one of the most important legal and religious documents
of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, we read : " Neither
shalt thou covet thy neighbour's wife; neither shalt thou
desire thy neighbour's house, his field, or his man-servant,
or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is
thy neighbour's/* 5 The wife is simply included in a cata-
logue of various articles of property belonging to a man.
This same equation of wives with houses or fields we find
centuries later in Jeremiah: "Therefore will I give their
wives unto others, and their fields to them that shall possess
them." "And their houses shall be turned unto others,
fields and wives together/' 6 Woman's task in life was to
work hard, to bear children, to win her husband's love,
and to try and hold it. And this last was not easy, for
divorce was the husband's privilege. It is the man who
always " takes a wife "; it is he who can send her away
at any moment, for any reasons, or for no reason at all. 7
Yet it would be a mistake to exaggerate the woman's
legal disabilities, or to identify completely her legal with
her social position. Besides being a daughter and a wife,
woman was also a mother, and the mother's status lacked
26 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
neither dignity nor even authority. She was to be accorded
the same " honour " as the father; like him she was also
to be "feared/' And in the matter of "fear," because
there naturally was need for special stress in her case, the
Bible goes out of its way to mention the mother first. 8
There is sufficient evidence to show that women of royal
and noble birth, especially the queen and the queen-mother,
exercised considerable social and political influence. 9 But
even a woman of the common people could contrive by
energy and ability to overcome her legal disadvantages
and to rise to a position of social prominence. The numer-
ous biblical heroines, from Sarah in patriarchal times to
Huldah in the critical period before the fall of the first
temple, bear abundant testimony to this fact. Some of
these were distinguished for personality and masterfulness
of character; others won popularity by the more native
womanly charms. We find these outstanding women
almost in every walk of life: in the home, in religion, in
politics, in prophecy, in the literary art, even in military
affairs. 10 It is a noteworthy fact that some of the most
popular, as well as important, literary documents em-
bodied in the Bible claim the authorship of women. 11
The achievements of these women, the names of many of
whom must have been household words, could not but
have a favourable effect on the attitude to women in general.
As to marital relations, it would be wrong to think that
the wife was merely her husband's slave. There was no
lack of conjugal loyalty and affection; and there were not
a few who knew the meaning of a love "as strong as
death/' which could not be bought for " all the substance
of one's house," and of a jealousy " as cruel as the grave/' 12
Such love and jealousy are eloquently illustrated in the
early chapters of the prophet Hosea. A simple but deeply
moving account of marital devotion will be found in the
following from Ezekiel: "The word of the Lord came
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 27
unto me, saying, Son of Man, behold, I take away from
thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke : yet neither shalt
thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down.
Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the
tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon
thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of
men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at
even my wife died. . . ." 13 And one of the last prophets
speaks of the wife in an ultra-modern manner as of a
friend and colleague, and denounces divorce as a betrayal
of friendship. 14 It would be misleading to regard men like
Hosea or Ezekiel as typical of the people as a whole. Yet
their views are not without significance for the under-
standing of the position of women in those times. Even
more significant is the fact that the union of man and
woman is used symbolically by the great prophets to re-
present the relationship of God with His people. 15
During the times of the second temple the legal position
of the woman gradually improved, mainly as a result of
the development of the " Oral Law/' whilst her social
status was at least as good as formerly. From the earlier
part of this period we have a valuable document which
throws a significant light on the attitude to woman at
any rate among the higher classes of the community.
Proverbs, chapter 31, may be described as an "ode to the
ideal wife." The subject is apparently a woman of the
upper circles, whose "husband is known in the gates"
where " he sits among the elders of the land." The poet
speaks in glowing terms of her devotion to husband and
children, of her industry and ability, of her charily, wis-
dom, and piety. Universal praise is the reward of her
virtues. It may be assumed that this " ideal of the perfect
wife " was as rarely achieved as most other ideals, yet it is
important to note that the description contains no sugges-
tion of the inferior status of the wife, except perhaps that
28 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
it is the husband who " sits among the elders " that is,
takes part in the government of the community.
Many women stand out prominently in the fact and fiction
of that period, some of them strongly reminiscent of earlier
biblical figures. There is a Deborah and Jael combined in
Judith; and the mother-martyr, in the reign of Antiochus,
the tale of whose heroic sacrifice is still capable of stirring
the imagination of youth. 16 There is Queen Salome to
whose reign later ages turned back wistfully as to some-
thing like a "golden era"; and Mariamne, the unfortu-
nate wife of Herod, who embodied the proud tradition of
her own family, the Hasmoneans, as well as of the long
line of outstanding women in Israel. And with her that
line, at least as far as the main body of the Jewish people
is concerned, seems to come to a close. 17
Little can be said of the education of girls during the
period under discussion. With regard to practical train-
ing of a religious or social nature the girl is mentioned as
well as the boy; and the teaching of the mother is com-
mended equally with the instruction of the father. 18 As
to formal literary education, in so far as it was given to
children by the father, or towards the end of the period
by private teachers, there is no good reason to suppose that
serious discrimination was practised against the girls.
More especially since such education was the privilege
mainly of the upper classes. That some preference was
shown to the boy over the girl goes without saying, but this
has been the case all over the world almost to our own
The first indication of the coming change in the attitude
towards woman is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Speak-
ing, perhaps, from personal experience, the writer declares
that woman is "more bitter than death"; "her heart is
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 29
snares and nets and her hands are as fetters"; and that
whilst "he has found one man among a thousand," he
" could not discover one woman among all these." This is
quite a new sentiment, and no parallel can be found for it in
earlier Hebrew literature. 19 One cannot help comparing it
with such sayings as the following from a Greek writer:
" On the earth and in the sea there are many wild beasts,
hut the worst of these is a woman/' Or, " Every wife is,
of course, an evil; the lucky man is he who secures the
mildest." 20 In spite of such sayings, which can be greatly
multiplied, it is probably an exaggeration to say, as some
writers do, that the woman in Greece passed her life as a
slave in a slave state, or that she was nothing but a means
of procuring a supply of children a kind of " isolated re-
productive organ." 21 On the other hand, there can be little
doubt that the Greeks regarded the woman as an inferior
being, and marriage as mainly a duty to the state, or a
necessary evil. For legal purposes the woman in Athens
always remained under the tutelage of a man, and socially
she was rather despised. "To the average stupid Athenian,"
a well-known authority says, "it was probably rather
wicked for a woman to have any character, wicked for her
to wish to take part in public life, wicked for her to
acquire learning or to doubt any part of the conventional
religion, just as it was wicked for her to deceive her hus-
Now, we shall be in a better position to understand the
change of attitude towards the woman among Jews when
we remember that from the middle of the fourth century
B.C.E. Hellenistic influence became an increasingly im-
portant factor in Jewish life, and especially in the develop-
ment of Jewish educational thought and practice. After
the destruction of the second temple we shall hear Jewish
rabbis speaking of the woman almost as contemptuously
as some of the Hellenistic philosophers, and sometimes
jo THE JEWISH SCHOOL
even using their identical expressions, thus pointing clearly
to the source o their inspiration.
The following may serve to illustrate the gradual de-
gradation of the status of the Jewish woman from the Hel-
lenistic period onwards. A rabbi of that period warns his
disciples, amongst other things, against indulgence in much
conversation with women. This saying is interpreted in
a later age to apply even to one's own wife, and on the
basis of it conversation with women is stated to bring evil
upon a man and to lead him to hell. Still later the very
voice of woman is proclaimed as lewdness woman has
already reached the state of being regarded merely as a
means to an end, an instrument for perpetuating the com-
munity: the "fall of woman" from her former position
was complete. 23
The foregoing is not intended to mean that the radical
change in the position of the Jewish woman in post-
biblical times was entirely, or even chiefly, due to Hellen-
istic influence. There can be little doubt that the incur-
sion of this foreign influence played a not unimportant
part in this as in many other spheres of Jewish life. The
chief cause, however, must be sought elsewhere. It was
the transformation of Jewish life, in form and in content,
which resulted from the Roman wars and the destruction
of the second temple. The political state gave place to
the religious community, and popular education " the
study of the Torah" became the principal, almost the
only, outlet for Jewish group life. Leadership no longer
went with birth, with membership of a class or a caste, or,
as so often in the past, even with inspiration, but with
distinction in scholarship. "After the destruction of the
temple/' the rabbis say, " the prophetic gift was taken from
the prophets, but not from the scholars," and so "the
scholar is superior to the prophet." 24 For it was no longer
a political leadership, but a leadership of learning. It
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 31
could be achieved only by one means education in the
narrow sense in which it came to be understood then, the
study of the " Written " and the " Oral " Law, But this means
was closed to the woman, who was effectively debarred from
either teaching or learning in the schools which began to
multiply at that time. In this the Jewish woman found
herself in a similar position to that of the Hellenistic
woman. But in her case this exclusion from the school
carried with it also the exclusion from every form of public
activity and her reduction to the position of a subservient
and inarticulate partner in Jewish life. She was coupled
with the illiterate as a matter of course; or, when religious
ceremonial was concerned, with the slave and the minor
a manner of speech borrowed from the Greek. And it
became quite natural for a pious Jew to thank God that
he was not born a heathen, a slave, or a woman. And
here, again, he did not even suspect that he shared these
sentiments with some heathen Greek philosophers 1 25
In the whole of the vast Talmudic literature there is
only one voice raised in favour of girls' education. Ben-
Azzai, a colleague of Rabbi Akiba, held the opinion that it
was a father's duty to teach his daughter the Torah. Ben-
Azzai was a bachelor. 26 On the other hand, there is abun-
dant evidence, direct and indirect, in rabbinical literature
which leaves no doubt whatever that the average woman
was deprived of every opportunity of formal education,
either secular or religious. 27 This evidence relates mainly
to the communities in Palestine and Babylonia, but the
opinion may be safely hazarded that the position elsewhere
was not materially different.
The woman's wisdom was to find its outlet only in the
spindle; her function was to produce children. 28 As a girl
in her father's house all her energy is given to menial
domestic tasks: grinding corn, drawing water, carrying
about her little brothers until they begin to go to school
32 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Their intellectual abilities will be developed, whilst hers,
because she stays at home, will be retarded. 29 For her father
is not obliged to teach her the Torah; even if he should
desire it, it would be wrong for him to do so. The woman
is naturally a light-minded and irresponsible creature, and
her congenital incapacity might lead her to turn the study
of the Torah into frivolity. 30 He will negotiate, even on the
Sabbath, with a teacher for her brothers; but the only talk
about her, perhaps on the same Sabbath day, will be how
to marry her off more quickly. 31 And when she will be
married and have her own children, it will not be her func-
tion to provide for their education, or to initiate them into
religious observances. 32 And yet it will be she who will
take the little boys in the mornings to the school at the
Synagogue, and this will be accounted a merit to her.
And if her husband is a scholar, she may gain some appre-
ciation by sitting at home of nights and waiting for him to
return from the " house of study." 33 But, although unable
to read, she will manage somehow to pick up a knowledge
of the prayers and will visit the Synagogue as often as she
can. She might even take the trouble to go to a distant
Synagogue rather than to the one nearest her home so as
to win an added reward for her exertions. 34
This is the picture of the woman's social, religious and
educational life which we are able to reconstruct from Tal-
mudic material. One important factor in the situation was,
it would seem, the custom of early marriage; marriage
arrangements for girls in their infancy were not an uncom-
mon thing. And the father's power was unlimited. *' If he
wanted to give his daughter to a leper he could do so." 35 In
such circumstances regular attendance at school, or even
systematic formal education outside it, was hardly possible.
What the closure of the school meant to the woman in an
age when the study of the Torah was recognised as a the
highest good" is forcibly expressed by the rabbis in the
THE WOMAN AND HER EDUCATION 33
following: "A boy is born everybody is glad; a girl is
born everybody is sad/' " The world cannot go on without
males nor without females. Happy is he whose children
are males; alas for him whose children are females." 35
There was a close similarity between Greek and Jewish
custom with regard to the early marriage of the girl and
her father's unlimited power in the matter. It was at least
partly due to this that both in Athens and in Jerusalem
schools were reserved for boys alone. 37 It may be added
that, with the exception of the new community in Pales-
tine, the negative attitude to girls' education has not yet
died out among Jews even at the present day.
It is instructive to find that woman's position in the first
centuries of Christianity underwent a similar process of
development, or rather deterioration, to that described in
the preceding pages. In the Gospels women are promi-
nent, and in the enthusiasm of the early Christian move-
ment they were allowed to do whatever they were fitted to
do. But soon an ascetic current set in which deeply
affected the position of woman in the ancient Church. As
among Jews, she was forbidden to teach, 38 and the highest
position left to her in the Church was that of doorkeeper
or message-woman. The production of children was to be
the sole object of marriage, and the main duty of the wife,
passive obedience to her husband her lord and master.
Some went further and considered that even marriage for
the sake of children was a carnal indulgence, and that the
woman was sent on earth to inflame the heart of man with
every evil passion.
The following extracts will show to what lengths this
other-worldly outlook could go. Clement of Alexandria
writes: "Nothing disgraceful is proper for man who is
endowed with reason, much less for woman, to whom it
brings shame to reflect of what nature she is." And Ter-
tullian, who was aware of the religious value of marriage
34 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
and, indeed, gave to it a beautiful expression, yet found it
possible to write the following : " The sentence of God on
the sex remains to this day in force, Thou (woman) art
the gateway of Satan, thou art the opener of the fatal tree,
the first deserter of the Divine law; thou art she who en-
ticed him whom the Devil dared not attack. Thou didst
thus easily break God's image which is man. . . ," 39
These views represent one of the moods of the age,
another one being the cynical contempt for woman of
some Hellenistic philosophers. In the writings of the
rabbis we find something of both these moods, but a char-
acteristic sense of reality helped them to escape from either
extreme. It was not, however, sufficient to save the woman
from being denied her share in the activity on which the
very existence of the world was declared to depend the
study of the Torah. 40
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION
I. Hellenistic influence. Contrasts between the Jewish and
the Spartan systems of education. Similarities between the
schools of Athens and of Palestine. The " Greek " cities in
Palestine. The Jewish communities in the Diaspora. Greek
influence on the development of post-bibilical Hebrew. The
Palestinian Jews were acquainted with the Hellenistic school
organization. The pervasive influence of Hellenism. Dr. Boyd's
view that the Jews " adopted the Hellenic institution of the
school. " This view is an overstatement of the case. The
necessary conditions for the rise of formal education had existed
in Palestine before the Hellenistic period. Hellenism was only
a factor of secondary importance. II. The father's individual
responsibility for the instruction of his sons was the basic prin-
ciple of Jewish education. The early school was a private and
independent institution. General control by the community.
Fees. Distinction between higher education and elementary
education. Free teaching of the " Oral Law." Fees in elemen-
tary education were not fixed. The gradual tightening of com-
munal control. Yet ultimately the school remained a private
venture. The effect of this system upon the education of the
poor. Comparison with the Athenian school.
IT will be convenient at this stage to examine in a general
way the question of Hellenistic influence on the develop-
ment of Jewish popular education. This will serve to
introduce our next subject: the organisation of the early
Jewish elementary school.
One would not expect to find any similarity between the
Jewish and the Spartan systems of education. These two
were sharply opposed in every essential feature. There
could be nothing in common between a military state
based on slavery, which destroyed the family and aimed
38 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
at the complete suppression of the individual; and a re-
ligious commonwealth, as the Jewish community became
after the destruction of the second temple, which regarded
the family as its unit of organisation and rested on the
foundation of the moral responsibility of the individual.
The Spartan school was the military barracks; the Jewish
school was from its inception a house of study and prayer
the Synagogue. 1
But the case is quite different with Athenian education.
There were striking similarities between the schools of
Athens and Palestine which, as will be shown again and
again later on, it would be difficult to regard as mere
coincidences. It should be borne in mind that from
the latter part of the fourth century B.C.E. the Jews lived
in the midst of a world which was rapidly becoming
Hellenised at least to the extent of adopting the ex-
ternal forms of Greek culture. During the Hellenistic
period about thirty "Greek" cities were established in
Palestine: along the Mediterranean coast, in Trans jordania
and especially around the Sea of Galilee; and an attempt
was made by Hellenised Jews immediately before the
Maccabean revolt to establish such a "Greek" city even
in Jerusalem itself. The organisation of these towns was
modelled on the " city states " of Greece and, externally at
any rate, they were centres of Greek culture, in their
language and in their political, social and religious institu-
tions. 2 Towards the end of the Hasmonean period large
numbers of Jews settled in these towns, where they lived
in close contact with the non-Jewish population. These
Jews were natural "carriers" of Hellenistic influences. 3
What a powerful factor Hellenistic influence was in mould-
ing Jewish cultural, social and industrial life may be judged
from the vast number of Greek words that have found
their way into post-biblical Hebrew. These words are met
with in connection with all sorts of subjects, including
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 39
education. 4 In addition there were the communities of
the Diaspora, of which Alexandria may be mentioned as
an outstanding example. There Hebrew was completely
displaced by Greek as the vernacular of the Jewish masses,
and this created the need for the translation of the
Scriptures into the latter language. There can be no doubt
at all that these Jews, who lived in the midst of a Hellen-
istic population and spoke its language, were familiar with
Greek educational institutions.
But even in Palestine itself it seems quite clear that the
Jews had the opportunity to acquaint themselves at first
hand with the Hellenistic school organisation of which
some of them were ready to take advantage. The follow-
ing text is significant in this respect : " One is not to hand
over to the idolaters " (a reference to the Hellenistic
population of the Palestinian towns) "a child for the
purpose of teaching him letters, or a trade . . . but one
may hand over a child to the ' Kuthim ' descendants of
the old Samaritans for instruction in letters or in a
trade/' 5 The need for this prohibition, which had no
other force behind it but public opinion and religious
sentiment, shows clearly enough that cases of Jewish
parents sending their children to Hellenistic schools were
In the struggle between Judaism and Hellenism the
former held its ground. This was a foregone conclusion.
A people like the Jews, which at that time had already
reached a high degree of national consciousness and, long
before it had met with the Greeks, had already produced
men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezra, could not give up its
individuality and simply exchange its way of life for that
of any other people, however gifted. Yet, as we have seen,
it was by no means proof against the pervasive influence
of Hellenism, nor even unwilling to benefit from it. It is
therefore important to ask how much the Jewish school
40 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
system, as it developed during the Talmudic period, owed
to this influence.
Dr. Boyd, to whose "History of Western Education "
reference has already been made, concludes his short
chapter on Jewish education with the following words:
"There is a curious irony in the fact that the Jews, in
seeking to save themselves from being overborne by the
Greek culture, should have adopted the Hellenic institution
of the school for their children and the Hellenic practice
of disputation for their young men. It is a striking testi-
mony to the tremendous power of that culture that the
one Oriental people who succeeded in freeing themselves
from its influence did so by making use of its educational
Dr. Boyd has rendered a valuable service to the study of
early Jewish education by thus directing attention force-
fully to the important factor of Hellenistic influence. As
will be shown frequently later, many aspects that are other-
wise obscure about the Jewish school in Talmudic times
become intelligible by reference to this factor. Yet it is
an overstatement of the case to say that the Jews have
"adopted the Hellenic institution of the school." Long
before the Hellenistic period all the conditions necessary
for the rise of popular education were already in existence
in Palestine. There was the potential school centre the
Synagogue. From very early times, as was shown else-
where, children attended the services, of which instruction
in the form of popular lectures was the central feature.
There was the teaching body, the "scribes," engaged in
the actual work of teaching since the time of Ezra. It is
significant that in later centuries the elementary school-
master is often called by the name which denoted the
scribe " Sopher " thus testifying to the continuity of the
development of popular education. There was also the
subject-matter for literary education those parts of the
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 41
Scriptures, such as the Pentateuch, which later formed the
staple content of instruction; and at least the beginnings
of the liturgy, which was growing up along with the
Synagogue. There was even the method of study which
may be regarded as characteristic of Jewish education
throughout the ages the reading and interpretation of a
Scriptural text. This method was already used at the
" Great Assembly " in the time of Nehemiah. 7 The com-
bination of these elements into an organised school was a
natural and inevitable development. It could be accelerated
or retarded by external factors of a political or military
nature. Its inspiration and its driving force came from
Moreover, even as an external factor Hellenistic influence
was only of secondary importance. The turning-point in
the history of Jewish popular education was the disastrous
Roman war which terminated in 70 C.E, with the destruc-
tion of the temple. It was after that, and even more so
after the abortive rebellion of Bar-Kochba, 132-135 C.E.,
that the centre of gravity of Jewish communal life was
shifted from the political to the spiritual plane, where it
has remained down to the present day. It was then that the
people concentrated on the work of education, the chief
weapon in its struggle for existence as a separate entity.
During the three centuries following the Roman war
popular education spread rapidly throughout Jewry; it
became almost universal for boys by the time the Hellen-
istic schools of the classical world had fallen into decay.
The preceding discussion will help us to a better under-
standing of the development of Jewish education as a
social institution. The basis of organisation of the Jewish
elementary school, its venue and equipment, its internal
4 2 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
arrangements, all present rather suggestive similarities with
the Greek school, as we shall presently see. This, perhaps
not unnaturally, led to an over-emphasised view of the
extent of Hellenistic influence. On the other hand, the
great majority of historians, with much less justification,
altogether fail to take notice of the Hellenistic factor. 8 It
is this latter view, which treats of Jewish education in
isolation from the general movement of educational
thought, that is largely responsible for the state of stag-
nation in which the study of our subject has remained for
so long. It will be our endeavour in describing the early
organisation of the Jewish school system to preserve the
right balance between the two extremes. Whilst attention
will be mainly directed to the development from within,
an effort will be made to appraise external influences at
their proper value.
The basic principle of Jewish education was the father's
individual responsibility for the instruction of his children,
or, more correctly, his sons. The well-known Deuteronomic
injunction about teaching the Commandments to the
children was popularly interpreted to mean: "And you
yourselves shall teach your children/' 9 This individual-
istic principle dominated Jewish education, as far as its
material organisation was concerned, throughout the
Talmudic period and for long afterwards. The community
did not attempt to take the place of the father, nor, for a
long time, did it even come to his assistance in any manner.
The school in its earliest stage was a private and in-
dependent institution. There were certain restrictions im-
posed upon it by custom or public opinion, such, for
instance, as that no woman or unmarried person was
allowed to teach in it. 10 Beyond such general control the
community did not interfere. Anyone who considered
himself qualified to do so would set up "school" in his
own house in the same manner as other people would set
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 43
up as tailors or tanners. 11 The pupils had to pay fees, and
the teacher could refuse admission to those unable to do
so. In the third century C.E. we read of a legendary
teacher-saint who claimed that he admitted to his school
the poor as well as the rich, and that he took nothing from
those who were unable to pay. 13 The average, less saintly,
teacher was obliged to adopt a more materialistic standard
of conduct. Not until a century later do we hear of a
ruling that communal assistance was in certain cases to be
given to a teacher; but this was only for the purpose of
engaging an assistant. 13
It is necessary to underline the distinction between
higher education, the teaching of the "Oral Law" to
adults, and elementary education for children. The rabbis
strongly insisted on the free teaching of the " Oral Law." 14
This was primarily intended to help the promotion of a
knowledge of the Torah. It may have also been meant to
counteract the spread among Jews of the practice of the
Sophistic teachers, who charged fees and competed for
pupils. 15 Their practice was suitable for Greece, or later
for Rome, where a course of study might result in im-
mediate material benefit for the learner, such as success in
public life through effective oratory. Conditions in Pales-
tine after 70 C.E., or in the Babylonian communities, were
very different. There were no political "prizes" to be
gained as a result of learning, except, of course, for the
general respect which a scholar enjoyed and some minor
privileges, such as immunity from certain forms of taxa-
tion. 16 The chief aim of education, and especially of its
higher forms, was the preservation of the people under
peculiarly adverse conditions. This aim could be achieved
only if learning were regarded as an ultimate value, as
something worth while for its own sake, and not for any
material benefits it might bring. Hence the great stress
in rabbinical literature on "study for its own sake"
44 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
"Torah lishemah." "Of the greatest sages of Israel/*
Maimonides tells us, "some were hewers of wood, others
were drawers of water, whilst some were blind, yet they
engaged in the study of the Torah day and night." 17
Allowing for some exaggeration, this is a fair enough de-
scription of the conditions of higher Jewish learning in
Talinudic times, when the scholar usually combined the
pursuit of knowledge with the practice of some trade. 18
But higher learning was the privilege of a small
minority, whilst elementary education aimed at embracing
the whole male population, and it would have been a hope-
less task to attempt to build up a general school system
on the work of voluntary teachers. Besides, elementary
teaching was, as we shall see later, a full-time occupation,
demanding all the teacher's time as well as all his energy. It
was therefore generally agreed that the teacher was to be
paid, if not for the actual teaching of the Torah, then at
least, it was argued, for taking care of the children during
the time they were in his charge. 19
The fees were not apparently at a fixed rate. It was a
matter for a private arrangement between the father and
the teacher, who were permitted to conduct their negotia-
tions even on the Sabbath, the amount depending upon
the economic position of the parents and, presumably, also
upon the standing of the teacher. A man's earnings, we
are told in a characteristic passage, are fixed in heaven at
the beginning of every year, except for his expenses on
Sabbaths and festivals, and on the education of his
children. If he spends more on these, his allowance is in-
creased accordingly; if he spends less, it is reduced. 20
Gradually, communal control and supervision of elemen-
tary education became more effective. In the fourth
century C.E. we find the teacher spoken of as a sort of public
servant, who was called to his task by the community and
could be removed from his post for inefficiency or neglect
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 45
of duty. 21 But even then it was a control without re-
sponsibility. It was a peculiar kind of arrangement in
which the community had all the advantages and the
teacher hardly any. He had to carry on his work under
the vigilant eye of the communal heads, who demanded of
him knowledge, ability and devotion to duty. Yet for his
living he had to depend upon the fees he could get from
his pupils. For ultimately the school remained the private
venture of the teacher, just as the education of his child
was the individual responsibility of the father. The com-
munity supervised the work of the one and stimulated the
sense of duty of the other; beyond that it did not go
until long after the close of the Talmudic period.
Under such a system much would depend upon the
parents' inclination, and even more upon their material
position. The rich would provide for their children an
education consistent with their social position, sending
them to the best schools, or engaging for them well-known
private teachers. The poor, who could not afford to pay
the necessary fees, would attempt to teach their own chil-
dren, or leave them untaught. In the earlier period there
were large numbers of such children left without any
education. These formed the unlettered class to which
reference has already been made. But even in later times,
when elementary education became practically general for
boys, the poor would still have to be content with less
efficient teachers, or else would be forced to withdraw their
children from school sooner than they might desire.
Now it is rather instructive to find that in its essential
features, as described in the preceding pages, Jewish ele-
mentary education in the period under discussion bore a
close resemblance to Athenian education. In Athens also
the education of the boy was his father's individual re-
sponsibility and the school was essentially the private ven-
ture of the teacher, controlled and supervised more or less
46 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
strictly by the state. " The teachers opened the schools as
private enterprises, fixing for themselves the fees and the
subjects which they taught. The parents chose what they
thought a suitable school according to their means and the
subjects which they wished their sons to learn. . . . The
poor may frequently have passed on their knowledge of
letters to their sons without the expense of a school. But
all this was a private transaction between parent and
teacher. The state interfered with the matter only so far
as to impose certain moral regulations on the schools/'
"The state attitude towards education . . . may be sum-
marised in the words of Socrates to Alcibiades : ' No one,
so to speak, cares a straw how you or any other Athenian
is brought up.' " 22
The Jewish community could not, if it were to survive,
adopt such a passive attitude. It was also obliged to exer-
cise a more rigid control over the content of education.
These, however, were only differences of degree; the basic
principles of organisation were the same in Jerusalem as in
There can be no doubt that the Jews learned much, con-
sciously and unconsciously, from the Hellenistic school
organisation. It was only natural that educational prac-
tices current among the non-Jewish population of Palestine
should flow over into the Jewish communities, and this is,
of course, even more true of the Diaspora, especially of
such communities as that in Alexandria, with whom the
Palestine Jews were in constant and regular communi-
It is, however, necessary to bear in mind that the form
of educational organisation described here was the only
possible one in the social and political conditions of those
times, whether in Greece or Judea. The compulsory and
universal system of education is, of course, entirely a pro-
duct of the modern national state. Many centuries had to
THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ORGANISATION 47
pass after the Hellenistic period before humanity was ripe
for such an advance.
Moreover, in the conditions of Jewish life as these
developed after the fall of the state, and in many respects
continued ever since, this semi-private type of school was
the only practicable form of organisation. The com-
munities were constantly exposed to interference from the
outside which often took a violent form. The danger of
persecution and expulsion was ever present. The Jews were
gradually becoming " the wandering people." Under such
conditions a complex and elaborate school organisation was
neither possible nor even desirable. What was required
was a school of a simple, mobile character, which closed
one day and opened somewhere else the following day.
And so it was to hard experience, more than to conscious
imitation of existing models, that the Jews owed the form
of school organisation which continued among them down
to current times. 23
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT
L How the elementary school was housed. The later Tal-
mudic period. The earlier period. The Synagogue as " the
people's house." II. The equipment of the school. The
pupils probably sat on the ground. The tablet and the stylus.
The pointer. The strap. Comparison with the Athenian school.
The tradition about Rabbi Akiba. III. Books. The advan-
tage of the Greek school over the Jewish. The Greek boy could
make his own books from his teacher's dictation. This method
was barred to the Jewish boy. The Bible was the only book
available. The scarcity and costliness of books. Illustrations
from the Talmud. The reverence for books. Portions of the
Bible were made into special scrolls for the use of children.
ALMOST all the writers on the early history of Jewish
education tell us that the home of the elementary school
was generally in the Synagogue, although children were
sometimes taught in the teacher's private house. Some
even state simply that the school was always held in the
Synagogue. Thus, for example, we find in a recent book
the following categorical statement: "If we consider the
Talmudic texts which speak of the teaching of children,
we will find everywhere that it was in the Synagogue/' 1
Now the evidence adduced by this writer, as well as by
some others, seems formidable enough. Nevertheless, his
statement cannot be accepted in the absolute form in which
it is expressed. It is true for the latter part of the Talmudic
period that is, from about the end of the second century
C.E.; it is quite incorrect for earlier times.
The available texts bearing on this question may be
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 49
readily divided into those belonging to the earlier, or
Mishnaic period; and others which reflect the conditions
of the later or post-Mishnaic period. 2 On analysis it will
be found that the latter invariably speak of the elementary
school as being part of the Synagogue, or even identify
these two institutions. A few typical examples will suffice
to illustrate the point.
Said Rav to Rabbi Hiyya, " How do women gain merit?
By making their children learn the Scriptures in the
Synagogue and their husbands learn the 'Oral Law* in
the ' house of study. 5 " 3
Raba said, " Since the reform of Joshua ben Gamala we
do not transfer a child for the purposes of education
from one town to another, but w r e may do so from one
Synagogue to another." 4
Rav Aha, son of Raba, said to Rav Ashi, " If one needs
to call a man out of the Synagogue" which one may
enter only for the purpose of prayer or study " he should
ask a child, who is studying there, to tell him his verse." 5
" Once a man came into the Synagogue and found an ele-
mentary teacher and his son sitting there," etc. 6
It will be observed that these texts, to which many more
of a similar nature could be added, simply speak of the
Synagogue as the place for the teaching of children. The
older term for the school ("beth hasepher") is not men-
tioned : the school is completely merged in the Synagogue. 7
Now compare these with the following texts, which all
clearly bear the stamp of an earlier period.
"Once a certain person spoke casually, saying, 'I re-
member when I was a child riding on my father's shoulder.
I was fetched from the school (" beth hasepher "), stripped,
and made to bath for the purpose of legal purification
in order that I might eat the "priests' portion" in the
evening/ On the strength of his own words Rabbi de-
clared him to be a priest." 8
5 o THE JEWISH SCHOOL
" It happened that the son of Gorgias of Lydda ran away
from school ('beth hasepher') and his father threatened
him. So he took fright and committed suicide by throw-
ing himself into a pit. They then came to consult Rabbi
Tarphon," etc. 9
"Rabbi Meir says, '. . . This may be compared to a
teacher who came to school ("beth hasepher") with a
strap in his hand. Who would be afraid? He who was
flogged every day would be afraid/ " 10
" If one of the inhabitants of a courtyard desires to set
up as a doctor ... or as an elementary teacher, the other
inhabitants may object."
" The inhabitants of a lane may compel one another not
to allow a tailor, or a tanner, or an elementary teacher, or
any other artisan to settle among them." 11
It will be seen that in these passages, all belonging to the
earlier or Mishnaic period, the school appears under its
own name " beth hasepher " and is spoken of as an in-
dependent institution. The Synagogue is not even men-
tioned in connection with it. It should also be noticed that
elementary education is treated as a private venture, and
the teacher is dealt with in the same manner as other
tradesmen, such as the tailor, the tanner, or the doctor.
Now, it is not intended to suggest here that in the earlier
period the Synagogue never served as a place for the teach-
ing of children. The position was very likely much the
same as in Greece. There, we are told, in the early days,
and in poor towns, the place of teaching was not well
appointed. In many places teaching in the open air pre-
vailed, or teachers took advantage, especially in hot
weather, of colonnades or shady corners among public
buildings. 12 The Jewish teacher, too, there is reason to
believe,* sometimes had to do his work in the open air
and, like his Greek colleague, would occasionally make use
* See A. Buchler, J.Q.R., vol. iv., 1913-14.
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 51
of some public place, such as the Synagogue, although
judging from the available evidence this was quite un-
But in the meantime, whilst the elementary school was
seeking after a suitable form of organisation, the Syna-
gogue gradually grew in importance until it became, after
the fall of the state, the centre of the religious and social
life of the community. The uneducated classes called it
"the people's house/' This name did not please the
scholars, one of whom applied to it EzekieFs expression,
"a little sanctuary." 13 Yet only a title like "people's
house" could adequately describe an institution which
came to combine within itself such a variety of functions.
For it gradually absorbed most of the social and religious
activities of the community. Besides being a house of
prayer, it was also, as will be remembered, a house of study
for adults; a place for the administration of justice;
and in addition, it apparently served as a hostel for way-
farers. 14 It was but natural that such a vital service as ele-
mentary education should also find its home in this com-
munal centre. And so we find that the later Talmudic
texts make no reference to the school as a separate institu-
tion; it was completely absorbed by the Synagogue. But
this meant more than the mere provision of more or less
uniform buildings and equipment and the consequent
greater facilities for the spread of the elementary school.
It represented a higher stage in the development of public
control over education. The teacher became, in many re-
spects, a public official, and was liable to suffer dismissal
for the neglect of his duties. Yet withal the principle of
organisation remained essentially the same as before. As
in Athens so also in Judea, or later in the Babylonian com-
munities, public control over the school carried with it no
responsibility for its maintenance, and the teacher was still
dependent for his livelihood on the fees paid by the pupils.
52 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
To sum up : In the earlier period that is, up to about
the end of the second century C.E. the elementary school
was not, except in rare cases, housed in the Synagogue.
Like the Hellenistic school, it was entirely a private enter-
prise, and the teaching was usually carried on in the
teacher's home. The turning-point took place some time
in the second century, most likely after the abortive rebel-
lion of Bar-Kochba. The community began to exercise
greater control over education, and the Synagogue, gradu-
ally developing into a centre for all important communal
activities, absorbed also the elementary school. After
200 C.E. the elementary school is always identified with the
It is not easy to piece together into a coherent picture
the scattered references in Talmudic literature to the equip-
ment of the school. It would seem that in the Academy,
or high school, the students sat during their lessons. It is
not, however, certain whether on benches or on the ground.
Thus we read in one place : " From the days of Moses until
the time of Rabban Gamaliel people studied the Torah
only in a standing position. With the death of Rabban
Gamaliel a weakness came down into the world, and people
sat when learning the Torah." 15 Elsewhere we are told that
three rows of scholars sat before the Synhedrion, or high
court of justice; to which the authoritative explanation is
given that the "great ones" that is, the sages sat on
benches whilst the students sat on the ground. 16 This
seems to be confirmed by the well-known passage in the
" Ethics of the Fathers " : " Let thy home be a meeting-
house for the wise; sit amidst the dust of their feet and
drink their words with thirst." In a curious text of a later
period we find a rather emphatic statement on this point.
"If someone comes in to you, saying, 'Teach me the
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 53
Talmud/ do so, if you can; if not, send him away at once.
And let Mm not sit before you either on a chair or on a
bench, but let him sit before you on the ground." 17 On
the other hand, a scholar of the third century C.E. gives it
as his view, supporting it from a biblical text, that no dis-
tinction must be made between teacher and pupil: they
must both sit either on a couch or on the ground. 18 The
inference seems to be justified that there was no uniform
practice. The teacher sat on a bench whilst the students
more commonly sat on the ground, although there were
apparently some who preferred standing to a sitting posture
with nothing to lean back on. 19
As to the elementary school there are numerous indica-
tions, mainly from the later period, pointing to the fact
that the pupils were seated, most probably on the ground.
The phrase in the Song of Songs, " the pomegranates bud
forth/' is applied to "children who sit and study the
Torah, and sit in rows like the seeds of pomegranates." 20
But as the teaching was individual the pupil probably had
to stand up when doing his turn and then go back to sit
in his place. 21
The scroll was apparently held on the knees. There is
evidence for it in the following text, which is interesting
also for other considerations. "... This may be likened
to a man who had a young son. When his father left him
and went out to the market-place, he got up and took the
scroll and put it between his knees and studied it. Then
the father returned and said, ' See my young son, whom I
left when I went out to the market-place, what did he do?
He got up and took the scroll and put it between his knees
and sat and learned it/ " 32 The scroll spoken of here evi-
dently refers to the special scroll for the use of school-
children. As we shall see later it was not considered proper
to place on the knees the ordinary " scroll of the law "
the "Sepher Torah/'
54 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Of other equipment we have several references to the
wax-tablet and the stylus, both used in the teaching of the
alphabet. These instruments, it may be mentioned, are
denoted by Hebrew words. For other writing materials,
however, many words were borrowed from Greek and
simply transcribed into Hebrew, but these are not found
in connection with the elementary school. 23
The pointer was apparently universally used in the teach-
ing of reading. In one of the legends about the rebellion
of Bar-Kochba we read as follows : " There were 400 Syna-
gogues in the city of Bethar; in every one of these there
were 400 elementary teachers; every one of these had before
him 400 pupils. When enemies entered there they pierced
them with their pointers. But when the enemy Hadrian
prevailed, they wrapped them in their scrolls and burned
them in fire." 24 It is hardly necessary to add that the
ubiquitous strap was also found in the Jewish school of
Talmudic times, where it replaced the biblical rod. 25
The following description of the internal arrangements
of the Athenian school will be of some interest at this
point. "The master sat on a high seat, from which he
taught. The scholars often sat on the ground ... or else
they stood or occupied benches round him. . . . We may
be sure that there were no tables or desks, such furniture
being unusual in Greek houses. It was the universal cus-
tom, while reading or writing, to hold the book or roll on
the knee." There, too, the pupil had apparently to stand
up when taking his turn. On the vases and pictures we
only see single boys mostly standing before their master to
receive their lesson. 26 It should be remembered that in
the Greek school as in the Jewish school instruction was
individual, given to each pupil in his turn, the technique
of class-teaching being quite a modern discovery.
The tablet and stylus were, of course, also used in the
Greek school, but for the teaching of writing. Thus we
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 55
read in Protagoras: "... In learning to write, the
writing master first draws lines with a stylus for the use
of the young learner, and gives him the tablet, and makes
him follow the lines." 27 The Jewish school In later
Talmudic times, as will be shown elsewhere, did not as a
rule teach any writing.
The story about Rabbi Akiba, the famous sage and
spiritual leader during the rebellion of Bar-Kochba in
132-135 C.E., will serve to illustrate several of the points dis-
cussed in the preceding pages. It is, besides, of consider-
able importance for the history of the development of
elementary education in general, and will be referred to
again in later chapters.
" What was the beginning of Rabbi Akiba? It is said
that when he was already forty years old, he had not yet
learned anything. Once, when he stood by a well he
asked, 'Who bored out that stone?' So they told him,
' Akiba, did you not read (in Job), " the waters wear away
the stone '*? The water which steadily falls on it did it/
Immediately Rabbi Akiba began to argue with himself,
saying, 'If a soft thing, like the water, could hew out a
hard thing, like the stone, then the words of the Torah,
which are as hard as iron, will certainly bore through my
heart, which is only flesh and blood!' Then he and his
son went and sat before an elementary teacher and Rabbi
Akiba said to him, 'Teach me the Torah/ So Rabbi
Akiba held one end of the tablet and his son the other
end. And the teacher wrote for him 'aleph-beth' that
is, the letters in their regular order and he learned
it. Then he wrote for him * aleph-taw/ 28 and he learned
that also. After that he went and sat alone, asking him-
self, why was this * aleph ' written? Why was this * beth '
written? So he went on studying until he finished all the
56 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
How did the Jewish elementary school of those days
stand with regard to the most important part of school
equipment textbooks? In this matter the Greek school
was more advantageously placed than the Jewish school.
It is true that in Athens there were no school books as we
know them. But the Greek boy could write down literary
matter from his master's dictation and so make his own
books. In spite of all its inconvenience, this method would
not be considered by the modern teacher as entirely devoid
of merit. To the Jewish pupil this method was barred.
The only book used in the Jewish elementary school was
the Hebrew Bible; everything else had to be learned en-
tirely by heart. But the Bible, and especially the Penta-
teuch, was invested with such sanctity, and the manner of
writing it was surrounded with such restrictions, that there
was no question of a boy attempting to do it. Books, or
rather scrolls, had, therefore, to be bought, whether by the
pupils or the teacher it is not easy to say. But the cost was
so high that it must have been beyond the reach of large
numbers of people. Thus we read of one who lost a scroll
of the law which he had bought for a hundred rninas a
very large sum however calculated. In his anxiety he
walked round and round the temple hill until he was in-
formed that the scroll had been recovered. 30 In the Baby-
lonian communities scrolls were apparently no cheaper.
We read, for example, that a stolen scroll was sold for
eighty zuzim, the buyer selling it again for one hundred
and twenty; or that a thick woollen garment and three
single copies of the Psalms, Job, and Proverbs, all old ones,
were calculated to be worth five minas. 31
In these circumstances scrolls were naturally scarce, and
this scarcity was a very serious factor affecting every de-
partment of the educational life of those days. We shall
THE SCHOOL AND ITS EQUIPMENT 57
see later that the development of methods of teaching was
largely conditioned by this factor. Numerous passages
bear eloquent testimony, directly and indirectly, to the
costliness and scarcity of books. " He who has found books
must not use them for the purpose of studying a new pas-
sage, nor may someone else study along with him. He may
not read a portion and repeat it, nor read a portion and
translate . , . and three people may not read together in
one volume." 32 It was apparently not unusual for two or
three people to study together in one scroll. A scholar of
the fourth century, in dealing with this subject, simply
explains : " Books are uncommon." " One must not sell a.
scroll of the To rah except for the purpose of studying or
marriage." The verse in Psalm cxii., "His righteousness
endureth for ever," is applied by a rabbi of the third cen-
tury to a man who writes the books of the Bible and lends
them to others. 33
The reverence with which the books of the Bible were
treated, and which must have had its effects on the daily
work of the school, is vividly shown by the following:
" He who sells his scroll of the law, even when he has no
need of it, will never see a sign of blessing." " One must
not put a scroll of the Torah on his knees . , * nor on a
chair . . . but one must hold it in his hands reverently
and read it." "One must not sit on a couch when the
Book is on it. Once Rabbi EHezer sat down on a couch on
which there was a scroll, so he jumped up as if stung by a
snake." 34 On the other hand, we find that the Book of
Esther, whose canonicity was considered doubtful at a late
period, was treated less respectfully. It was also cheaper
and could be written to order for one zuz. 35
Apart from the complete scrolls of the Pentateuch there
were also smaller ones containing only single books. We
find also "Books of Haphtaroth," probably consisting of
the prophetic portions read in the Synagogue. The former
58 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
were not to be used in the Synagogue, but there was no
uniform practice as to the latter. Both kinds were very
likely used in the school. 36
As to special books made for the use of children, it is
not easy to obtain a clear picture from the conflicting
evidence before us. The practice apparently varied in
different ages and in different places. Certain portions of
the Bible which occupied a prominent place in the liturgy
were written out in special scrolls. Thus we read of scrolls
containing the three paragraphs of the " Shema " : Deuter-
onomy vi. 4-9, xi. 13-21; Numbers xv. 37-41; and the
" Hallel " : Psalms cxiii.-cxviii. Their use was not looked
upon with favour by the religious leaders of the community.
This question was debated in the second century C.E. in
Palestine and again in the fourth century in Babylonia.
It was evidently a matter which continually thrust itself
upon public attention. One may imagine that the teachers,
forced by the needs of school work, raised the issue again
and again, and compelled the religious leaders to make
certain concessions. The prohibition to make these scrolls
contained a loophole: one might write out only a portion
of a book, if he intended to complete it at another time.
There can be little doubt that teachers made use of this
provision. One rabbi of the second century C.E. permits
the making of such sectional scrolls and marks their limits
thus: in Genesis, the first five chapters; in Leviticus, the
first eight chapters. 37
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK
I. Pre-school training at home. The age of three was the
starting-point for education. The entrance age to the school.
The leaving age. Resemblance to Greek practice. II. School
hours. Holidays. The long hours were due to the fact of indi-
vidual teaching. III. The teacher's qualifications. Strict
supervision by the religious heads of the community. Com-
munal control did not imply comfortable living. The social
status of the elementary teacher. The position in Greece and
Rome. The different character of Jewish education. The dis-
tinction between higher and elementary education. The " sun "
and the " stars." The elementary schoolmaster was usually
accorded the last place among communal officers.
BOTH the Bible and the Talmud frequently speak of the
moral and religious training given to children in the home.
In strictly religious houses this training would "begin very
early in life almost at birth. The phrase "A boy who
has reached the age of training" is often met with in
Talmudic literature, but this, as will be shown later, did
not mean a fixed point coinciding with a certain physical
age. It was rather an " intelligence age," varying with in-
dividual differences and also with the nature of the parti-
cular subject for which the training was required.
Even after the school became a popular institution, the
religious training given to a child at home included the
rudiments of a literary education, except for reading and
writing. "When the child begins to speak his father
should speak to him in the 'holy tongue' (Hebrew) and
teach him the Torah, If he does not speak to him in the
'holy tongue' and teach him the Torah, it is as if he
60 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
buries him." "Three years the child is unable to con-
verse, but in the fourth year his father consecrates him to
the Torah." And again, " As soon as a child is able to
speak his father teaches him the * Shema ' and the Torah
and the ' holy tongue '; if he does not do so, it would have
been better for him not to have been bom." Of the
patriarch Abraham we are told in a well-known legend
that he recognised his Creator at the age of three. 1 The
recurrence in these texts of the " age of three " shows that
it was considered the starting-point both for a practical
religious training as well as for the beginning of a literary
education. It should, however, be noted that the father is
generally spoken of as the natural teacher, and that the
school is not mentioned.
As to formal education, or the entrance age to the
elementary school, there was no strictly uniform practice.
In the early period, when the school was an entirely private
institution and pupils met in their teacher's house, there
could, of course, be no fixed entrance age. Parents would
send their children to some teacher if and when convenient
by private arrangement. This would depend not only on
their inclination, but upon the existing facilities in a given
district and, also, upon their ability to pay the required
fees. At an important rabbinical synod held in the middle
of the second century C.E. it was enacted that " A father
should deal patiently with his son up to the age of twelve,
after which he should cease to support him." This is in-
terpreted as meaning that up to the age of twelve the father
should treat leniently his son's unwillingness to learn; after
that age the child must be forced. If this interpretation is
correct, it would show that even in observant houses
children started their studies at any age up to twelve. 2
Later on, when the school came to be looked upon as a
communal institution and usually met in the Synagogue,
the entrance age became more regular, although it was
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK 61
never rigid: some would send their children when they
reached the age of five; others would wait until they were
six or seven. This latter entrance age, it may he remem-
bered, is given in the tradition which ascribes the founda-
tion of the elementary school to Joshua ben Gamala. On
the other hand, there is the oft-quoted passage in the
" Ethics of the Fathers " which states as follows : " At five
years, for the Bible; at ten, for the Mishnah; at thirteen,
for the observance of commandments; at fifteen, for the
Talmud; at eighteen, for marriage/' 3 This, however, is not
meant to be taken as a regulation, or as a description of
existing conditions. It does not offer us a scheme for
formal education, but describes what it considers to be the
stages of development of a human being from childhood
to old age : At five years a child is fit, or ripe, for the study
of the Bible; at ten, for the study of the Mishnah, etc.
From the third century C.E. we have the advice given by
an educational reformer to a teacher: "Do not admit a
child under the age of six; from that age and onwards
admit him, and cram him like an ox." The same entrance
age is recommended a century later by another scholar.
This, it may be concluded, was the generally accepted view
in the later Talmudic period. In post-Talmudic times the
entrance age was gradually lowered, and still later it was not
uncommon for a child of four, or even younger, to be sent
to school. The reason given was that since Talmudic times
abilities deteriorated and it was therefore necessary for
children to start earlier. 4
As to the leaving age there is no direct evidence. It is,
however, very likely that it was thirteen, when a lad
assumes responsibility for the observance of command-
ments. Of Jacob and Esau we are told : " All the thirteen
years both of them went to school and came back from
school; after the age of thirteen one of them went to the
'house of study/ the other to the houses of idolatry." 5
62 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
In the same place we read : "A man should engage himself
with his son until the age o thirteen; after that he should
say, "Blessed be He who has absolved me from respon-
sibility for this boy/ " & It would seem that at the age of
thirteen a boy would leave his elementary school either to
engage in some work or to proceed to a higher education.
But this would depend on many conditions and, mainly, on
the parents' economic positon. Thirteen was the leaving
age in post-Talmudic times, and is so now for the majority
of Jewish children in so far as formal religious education
In this connection, too, it is noteworthy, the conditions
were very similar to those obtaining in the Greek school.
For Greek boys also school life usually began when they
were about six years old, the exact age being left to the
parents' choice. Before this they learnt in the nursery
the various current fables and ballads and the national
mythology. Moral training began as soon as the child
understood what was said. Among the Greeks, as among
the Jews, the economic positon of the parents was the de-
termining factor. In a school system which was essen-
tially voluntary, having no other authority behind it but
public opinion, and which maintained itself by the fees
of the pupils, it could not be otherwise. The sons o rich
parents in Athens went to school earliest; their poorer
fellow-citizens went later. Again, the poor could not keep
their sons at school for a long time as they needed their
services at home, and the fees were a burden, so they sent
them only when they were old enough to pick up instruc-
tion quickly. Whilst the rich, to whom money was no
object, sent their boys to school at an age when they could
do little more than look on while their elders worked. 7 It
should be added that among the Jews of Talmudic times,
as probably also amongst the Greeks, there were some who
failed to send their children to school altogether, either for
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK 63
lack of facilities or on account of the " burden " of fees.
Communal schools for the poor did not come into existence
until post-Talmudic times.
School hours in Talmudic times were long and intervals
were apparently unknown at least for the teacher. Chil-
dren began their lessons early, at sunrise, or even before,
and spent the whole day at school, returning home only
in the evening. 8 Thus we read of a question, addressed to
a scholar of the third century, whether village children may
come to town, for the purpose of attending school, before
dawn and return home after dark without danger from evil
spirits. His characteristic answer was that he felt sure about
their safety in coming to school : the good deed would pro-
tect them; but he was doubtful about their going back. 9
Elsewhere we read of a scholar of the fourth century C.E.
who used to take his boy to school before he himself had his
breakfast; and of another one who did so even before he had
arranged his headdress properly. 10 The institution of the
pedagogue was unknown among Jews, who would not rele-
gate such an important religious duty as attending to a
child's education to a slave, as the Greeks usually did. It was
either the father, or more often the mother, who took the
boys to school. The practice of studying also during part
of the night, which is stated by Maimonides 11 to be the
law, may be derived indirectly from certain Talmudic texts
which suggest that children began night-study after the
fifteenth of Ab roughly about the middle of August. 12
In later ages it was the general custom for children to
remain in school for some hours in the evening during the
We do not hear directly of any holidays, although it
may be assumed that on certain days (such, for instance,
as the major festivals, or the fast of the ninth of Ab,
64 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
which marks the destruction of the temple) lessons
were not given. One modern writer on the subject,
after stating that " on Fridays the work done during the
week was revised/' goes on to say that " vacations occurred
on days preceding the Sabbaths, feasts, and holidays, and
on fast days/' and that " there was also a cessation of in-
struction on the three days preceding Pentecost, on the
half-days of Hanukkah (feast of Dedication), on New Moon,
and on the fifteenth of Ab and Shebat." 13 This is quite a
respectable list of holidays which would bear comparison
with that of some modern schools. It is apparently based
on Maimonides and on later custom. But it is misleading
to give it as the practice of the school in Talmudic times,
for which it is difficult to find any evidence. On the con-
trary, there is reason for saying that, at least in the earlier
period, it was not uncommon for children to receive in-
struction even on a Friday evening, and also on the Sab-
bath when the lesson was to consist only of revision. The
following incident is significant in this connection. Rav
the famous scholar and educational reformer of the third
century once found a well-known teacher standing in his
garden. So he asked him : " Have you broken faith with
your pupils?" The answer was: "For thirteen years I
have not seen this garden; and even now my mind is with
the pupils/' The faithful teacher had no respite from his
Long hours for the teachers, if not for the pupils, was the
rule of those times, and was probably due to the fact that
the teaching was individual and every pupil had to get his
turn. In Athens also, according to the laws of Solon,
schoolmasters were forbidden to open their schools before
sunrise, and were ordered to close them before sunset
that is, the schools were open from dawn to dark. These
limits were imposed only because the lawgiver was sus-
picious of the empty streets and of the <iarkne$s. But the
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK 65
Greek teacher and his pupils were rather more fortunate
in the matter of holidays. For although they had no free
Saturdays and Sundays, or long vacations, about ninety
festival and other state holidays served to "break the con-
tinuity of instruction. 15
An unimpeachable moral and religious character was an
essential qualification for a teacher. " If the teacher can be
compared to an angel of the Lord of Hosts, the Torah may
be sought at his mouth; if not, the Torah may not be
sought at his mouth." This, it is explained, applies par-
ticularly to the elementary teacher. 16 He was further
expected to have such zeal and devotion to Ms duties
as to give himself entirely to his pupils, and ta possess
almost boundless patience. "The impatient man can-
not be a teacher/' was an accepted rule. 17 He was also to
be of a suitable age that is, not too young and to be
married. A woman was not allowed to engage in teach-
ing. 18 It goes without saying that a good knowledge of the
subjects he had to teach was a necessary qualification. And
it should be borne in rnind that in those times when the
Scriptures, the principal subject of the elementary school,
had to be taught without the help of a vowel system; and
the liturgy, another important subject, was unwritten and
in a state of flux, it was by no means an easy matter to
acquire this qualification. In Athens, we are told, there
was no official or state test of a master's qualifications; each
man set up on his private account, and it depended on the
reputation he made whether his school was well attended. 1 *
This would be true also of Palestine in the earlier period.
Later on, with the development of public control over edu-
cation, the teacher was under the strict supervision of the
religious heads of the community. He could be dismissed
without warning, losing his position, and, presumably, his
66 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
livelihood. The waste of children's time through the
teacher's neglect of his duty was considered to be an irre-
coverable loss. In a late source we are told hyperbolically
that to exchange greetings with a teacher is like worship-
ping idols as it causes interruption in his work! 20
But communal control did not apparently imply either
a comfortable or even a secure living for the teacher. He
was a public servant and a private individual at one and
the same time, but only in respect of the disadvantages in-
cidental to both. From certain Talmudic references it may
be gathered that he was usually poor enough to be over-
looked by the King's tax-collectors. Sometimes he was, or
had to be, a man of many parts, combining the offices
of preacher, judge, beadle, and teacher. 21
In Greece the teacher's calling was not such as to give
him either dignity or self-respect. To call a man a teacher
was almost an insult, and even his own pupils treated him
with contempt. In Rome the position was even worse.
The teachers of elementary schools were socially de-
spised. Indeed, so many slaves and freed men were em-
ployed as teachers that this could not have been other-
wise. 22 Now, there was a fundamental difference between
the Hellenistic and the Jewish schools. The former was a
civil institution in which religion played relatively a minor
part. The latter, especially in the later period when it was
usually housed in the Synagogue, was essentially a religious
institution, the instruction of children being regarded as
the most sacred of all commandments. It was a duty
which rested primarily on the father, who, in his turn,
relegated it to the teacher. In the circumstances, it may be
assumed that the Jewish teacher enjoyed a higher social
status than his colleagues in Greece or Rome. We shall
certainly never find him spoken of in such terms as
" abominable schoolmaster, object abhorred alike by boys
and girls." 33
THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT WORK 67
And yet it would be a mistake to jump to the conclusion
that his social position was in any way enviable. Talmudic
literature abounds in expressions of the deepest respect and
veneration for " the teacher." But quite apart from the
question how much these reflect real conditions, it must
always be remembered that there was a sharp distinction
between the sage, the recognised teacher of the "Oral
Law/' who occupied the highest rungs of the ladder, and
his humble colleague at the bottom the elementary
teacher. This distinction existed all over the world from
the days of ancient Greece down to modern times. There
is no doubt at all that it was very marked also among Jews
in Talmudic times.
It is necessary to stress this point because Talmudic
texts are so often quoted indiscriminately and thus tend
to create an erroneous impression which is not warranted
by the available evidence. 24 Here is a typical example
of those much-quoted texts. "If a man and his father
and his teacher are in captivity, he himself takes pre-
cedence over his teacher (for the purpose of being ran-
somed); his teacher is to be ransomed before his father;
but bis mother is to take precedence over all. The sage is
to be ransomed before the king : if a sage die, we have no
other one like him; if a king die, all Israel are fit for the
crown." 25 This, and similar passages, reflect the men-
tality of the Jewish spiritual leaders at a critical period,
after the failure of Bar-Kochba's rebellion, when it was a
matter of vital necessity to train the people to the view that
the Torah was to take the place of the political institutions
which had been destroyed, perhaps for ever. They are the
expression of an aim or an ideal rather than a statement of
existing conditions. But whatever be the view taken of
such texts it is quite certain that they contain no reference
to the elernenary teacher : he is altogether out of place in
68 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Perhaps the most striking tribute paid to the elementary
schoolmaster is the application to him of the verse in
Daniel : *' And they that turn many to righteousness shall
be as the stars for ever and ever." These, we are told, are
the teachers of children. But the scholars of the Academy
were evidently surprised at the high praise given to those
humble followers of the profession. "What kind of
teachers?" they ask. And the answer is, "Teachers like
Rab Samuel ben Shilath " that is, one who was a stand-
ing example for zeal and devotion. A further ques-
tion is then asked : " And what about the teachers of the
'Oral Law'?" This is answered by a scholar of the fifth
century C.E., who applies to them the verse from Judges,
" And they that love Him shall be Eke the sun when he
rises in his might." 26 This is very apt : the difference in
regard to social position between the sage and the primary
schoolmaster was very much like the difference between
the sun and the stars.
In legal discussions the elementary teacher is found
among the tradesmen, such as the medical practitioner and
the weaver, who are considered to be undesirable neigh-
bours, probably on account of the noise incidental to their
professions. This, of course, refers to the earlier period,
when children met in the teacher's private house. 27 Later,
when the elementary teacher became a kind of public
servant, he was usually accorded the last place among com-
munal officers. One late document even goes as far as to
charge him with having a childish mind, evidently as a
result of continually having to deal with children. 28
It may be added that in post-Talmudic times the social
position of the elementary teacher steadily deteriorated,
and in quite recent ages the Hebrew word for teacher
" melammed "actually became a term of insult, very
much as in Greece of old.
THE SCOPE OF STUDIES
I. The scope of studies in the Jewish school of the later
Talmudic period. A comparison with the curriculum of the
Hellenistic school. II. Secular subjects. The period before
the Roman wars. Children were sometimes sent to non-
Jewish teachers. Jewish teachers borrowed from matter and
methods of non-Jewish teachers. An example from the Tal-
mudic method of disputation. III. An important tradition
bearing on the question of secular subjects. Before the fall of
the state it was customary, among the upper classes, to teach
children the Greek language and literature. After the destruc-
tion of the second temple education became identified with the
study of the Torah alone.
FOR a variety o reasons it will be convenient to begin the
consideration of the curriculum with the later period, when
the school was already subject to public control and was
generally housed in the Synagogue. The upper limit of
this period, as explained elsewhere, may be placed at about
the middle of the second century C.E.
The following passage will serve as an introduction to
the whole subject.
" The sages said : This foolish man enters a Synagogue
and sees people engaged in the study of the Torah. So
he asks them: 'How does one begin to study the Torah?'
And they answer him : ' First one reads in a scroll * (the
special scroll for children containing the early chapters of
Genesis or Leviticus; 'then in the Book (Pentateuch); after
that the Prophets; after that the Writings; when he has
finished the Bible, he learns the Talmud.' "
72 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The same order of studies is also found elsewhere : " You
had a son, and he learned the Torah the Pentateuch, the
Prophets, and the Writings; the Mishna, Halacha (the
legal part of the Talmud), and Agadah (the homiletic part
of the Talmud). 9 ' 1
This, it will be seen, agrees with the outline given in the
oft-quoted passage from " the Ethics of the Fathers " : " At
five, the Bible; at ten, the Mishnah; at fifteen, the
Talmud." With the addition of the alphabet and the
liturgy, which are apparently taken here for granted, this
may be said to represent the full extent of studies in the
Jewish school of the later Talmudic period. Indeed, it
would be true to say that this curriculum, in its main out-
line, remained in force in the Jewish school practically
down to the end of the eighteenth century, although in
later ages the emphasis was shifted from the Bible to the
Compared with the curriculum of the elementary Hellen-
istic school, one misses here not only gymnastics (which
after the Maccabean revolt is never heard of again in con-
nection with the school) but also such popular subjects as
music and arithmetic. In fact, we have no mention of
any secular subjects being taught to children in the period
under discussion. There was no room for studies of this
kind in the school as then constituted; nor, it would
appear, was there any pressing need for them in the life
outside the school at any rate in the Babylonian com-
munities. A knowledge of the language of the country,
at least the written language, was uncommon in these
communities, Jewish scholars looked down upon that
language, denying it originality. It is interesting that the
same view is expressed by the rabbis also with regard to
Latin. The opening verse of Obadiah, " Thou art greatly
despised," is referred to the Romans who " have neither
a writing nor a language of their own " evidently a refer-
THE SCOPE OF STUDIES 73
snce to Greek influence on the development of Roman
On the other hand, the Greek language and culture are
usually treated with respect.
The exclusion from the school of all secular subjects
was a characteristic mark of the period with which we are
concerned. As will be shown later, this was a necessary,
perhaps inevitable, consequence of the changed political
conditions in which the Jewish people found itself after
the Roman wars. Before that time education had a wider
meaning, and there was a more liberal attitude to non-
religious subjects such as were usually designated by the
term " Greek wisdom/'
Even in that period, it goes without saying that the
Bible was the principal subject of study. Furthermore, as
will be shown later, children's studies were even in the
earliest times closely connected with the Synagogue ser-
vices, such as they were, and were indeed designed with a
view to their active participation in those services. This
affords strong evidence of the remarkable influence the
Synagogue exercised on the development of Jewish social
and cultural life, and also of the view that the origin of
the school must be sought in the Synagogue.
Nevertheless, we hear in those times of the practice of
sending children to non-Jewish teachers for the purpose
of literary instruction, which, of course, could only mean
such subjects as the Greek language and literature. This
practice was forbidden by the rabbis, but their objection
seems to have been directed against the generally undesir-
able influence of an idolatrous teacher rather than the
subject-matter of his teaching. 3
Indeed, the expression used to denote education in some
74 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
of the earlier texts seems to have been borrowed from a
passage in the Bible, where it evidently refers to a foreign
language and literature. It is characteristic of the Jewish
attitude to education that even for this type of instruction
authoritative opinion permitted the father to make the
necessary arrangements on the Sabbath day. 4
We also hear of what were apparently ^Esopian fables
used to illustrate biblical verses. Out of three hundred
only three have survived, and these clearly bear the char-
acter of elementary school material. 5 It may be assumed
that the Jewish private teacher of those days, even if he did
not himself teach the Greek language and literature, bor-
rowed freely from the matter and method of the contem-
porary Hellenistic school.
The extent of that borrowing may be seen from the
enormous number of Greek words, ranging from a "har-
bour " to such 'common objects as a " bench/' that have
found their way into Hebrew. It may be noted here that
the method of the Jewish high school, the Talmudic
method of disputation, also dates from that early period
and owes a great deal to Hellenistic influence. Thus we
read, for example, of a famous scholar of the second cen-
tury C.E., who could effectively argue on both sides of a
case, proving " the unclean (ritually) to be clean " and vice
versa. But this was the method of the Hellenistic
rhetorical school, where the students were trained to speak
for and against a given proposition. Some of these pro-
positions, suitably translated into Hebrew or Aramaic,
would easily pass as of Talmudic origin. It is difficult to
avoid the view that this method of study, which de-
generated in later generations into a mere hair-splitting
casuistry, was greatly stimulated by the example of the
Hellenistic school even if it was not entirely borrowed
from there. 6
THE SCOPE OF STUDIES 75
The following Talmudic passage is so valuable for our
discussion that we shall quote it at length.
" In the war of Titus (65-70 C.E.) it was decreed that no
man must teach his son Greek." On this the question is
asked: " But surely this cannot be so! For did not Rabbi
say, ' In Palestine why do we need Syriac? We should use
either Hebrew or Greek.' " To this the Talmud replies by
making a distinction between the " Greek language " and
" Greek wisdom " (or science) and confining the prohibition
only to the latter. A further question is then asked: " But
is even ' Greek wisdom ' forbidden? Is not Rabbi Simon
the son of Gamaliel reported to have said : * There were a
thousand children in my father's family; five hundred of
them studied the Torah and five hundred studied " Greek
wisdom," but there remained of them only I here and my
cousin in Asia/" To this the answer is given that the
family of Rabban Gamaliel were different from others on
account of their being " near to royalty." Another tradi-
tion is then cited stating that the family of Gamaliel were
permitted to study "Greek wisdom" because they were
near to royalty that is, had official relations with the
Roman authorities. 7
This discussion throws a useful light on the question of
secular subjects in the Jewish school. Before the fall of the
state it may be assumed to have been customary, especially
among the upper classes, to teach children the Greek lan-
guage and literature, and perhaps also some other non-
religious subjects. This would often be done by non-
Jewish teachers. In the economic and social conditions of
those times "Greek wisdom" was a necessity especially
for the inhabitants of the larger towns. Then came the
disastrous Roman war and the bitter hatreds engendered by
it, and an attempt was made to erect a barrier between the
76 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Jews and the Hellenistic world surrounding them, and
"Greek wisdom/' as representing all secular subjects of
study, was put under the ban. Such a ban, in other cir-
cumstances, might have had only a temporary effect. But
events after 70 C.E., and particularly the defeat of Bar-
Kochba in 135, all helped to sharpen the hostility towards
everything Hellenistic. All hopes for regaining political
independence were apparently shattered for ever. Hence-
forward, education, the study of the Torah, was to take the
place of state and temple, to provide the only outlet for
the people's religious, social, and cultural life. More than
that : even the past had to be reinterpreted and explained
anew in terms of the present. Hence those quaint and
fanciful stories about the heroes of old which fill the
Talmudic literature. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were
given the outlook and even the manners of second-century
rabbis, and David was represented as spending his days in
the Beth-Hamidrash (house of study) in discussions of the
" Oral Law." 8 It was a remarkable, and by no means un-
successful, effort to preserve the continuity of Jewish his-
tory during a period of political and religious upheaval,
and it smoothed the transition of the community from a
political into a spiritual entity.
It is obvious that in such conditions secular studies could
not thrive. Here and there, in the upper classes and
among those who had to maintain contact with the Roman
authorities, some interest in Hellenistic learning lingered
on. But education as a whole grew more and more ex-
clusive in character until it became identified with the
study of the Torah alone.
A well-known sage of the second century C.E., so the
Talmud relates, was once asked by his nephew whether he
might be permitted to learn some " Greek wisdom " seeing
that he had already studied the whole of the Torah. By
way of answer he was referred to the verse in Joshua:
THE SCOPE OF STUDIES 77
" This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth,
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night." " Now,"
said the sage, " go and find an hour which is neither day
nor night, and study in it 'Greek wisdom/ " g This was
the character which Jewish education took on at that
period as a result of political circumstances, and which it
was to maintain for many centuries to come.
READING WRITING ARITHMETIC
I.- Arithmetic was not included in the curriculum of the ele-
mentary school in the later Talmudic period ; nor was reading,
as an independent subject of study, known in that school.
II. Writing was not an uncommon art in Bible times and in
the early post-biblical period. Evidence from the Bible and
from early rabbinical literature. In the later period, and
especially in Babylonia, writing was uncommon. Evidence
from the Talmud. Writing was of little practical use. It was
not taught in the elementary school of later times.
THE modern practice of grouping these subjects together
" the three R's " is followed by many writers on early
Jewish education. The general view seems to be that all
the three were included in the curriculum of the ele-
mentary school, although some doubt is felt with regard
to arithmetic. 1
As will be shown presently, there is little, if any, founda-
tion for this view. On the contrary, one is almost com-
pelled to the conclusion that none of these subjects, in
their generally accepted meaning, was taught to children
in the later Talmudic period that is, in the period when
it is at all possible to speak of a " school " as an organised,
publicly controlled institution. The absence of these sub-
jects from its curriculum is indeed the chief characteristic
of the Jewish school, distinguishing it both from the con-
temporary Hellenistic as well as from the modern school.
First as to arithmetic. It is not, of course, improbable
that in the earlier period some children learnt it privately
from their Jewish or non-Jewish teachers. But it is diffi-
READING WRITING ARITHMETIC 79
cult to see on what grounds it should be considered to have
been a regular subject of study. The fact that some rabbis
used mathematics, along with other sciences, in their dis-
cussions can hardly be regarded as sufficient evidence that
arithmetic was regularly taught to children o elementary
school age. There were mathematicians, scientists, and
artists in pre-war Russia when the bulk of the population
was illiterate. But there is no trace of other evidence.
Both the Greeks and the Romans used finger-reckoning,
and, among the latter especially, it became an important
subject of instruction in the elementary school. There is
at least one reference in rabbinical literature to this form
of arithmetic, but its style suggests that it was an uncom-
mon art among Jews, and it is most unlikely that it was
taught to children. 2
When we come to the publicly controlled school of the
later period there can be no doubt at all that it had no
place for any subject like arithmetic. As was shown above,
the aim and purpose of the school, its prevailing temper,
was antagonistic to any subject which could not be re-
garded as of a directly religious nature.
The question of the teaching of reading is dealt with at
length in a special chapter. Little therefore need be said
here, except, by way of anticipation, to state one conclusion
reached there namely, that reading as an independent
subject was unknown in the school of the Talmudic period.
In the absence of a vowel system there was no means of
teaching it. The children were first taught the alphabet,
which consisted of consonants only, i.e., the names, shapes,
and function of the letters; from that they were taken
straight to the Bible and learned the correct reading of the
verses, together with their meaning, the former being
largely dependent upon the latter.
8o THE JEWISH SCHOOL
In later biblical times writing does not seem to have
been an uncommon art. We hear of families amongst
whom it was apparently an hereditary profession.
Amongst the general population, too, especially the upper
classes, it seems to have been sufficiently developed to form
a convenient means of communication, or to enable people
to write from dictation. The spread of literacy, including
both reading and writing, had reached a stage when it
could be regarded as a distinguishing mark between people.
Although there is no clear evidence on the point, it may
be conjectured from indirect biblical references that some
boys at least were taught the art of writing, presumably
by their parents, 3
There is no doubt that in the post-biblical, or early
Talmudic, period writing became even more common.
This is especially true of the Hellenistic times. We read
of voluminous correspondence; of shopkeepers writing
down their debts on tablets; of all kinds of writing
materials, including such a suggestive article as " the com-
mon inkpot/' The names of these numerous implements
are largely borrowed from the Greek, thus showing us how
much the spread of the art owed to Hellenistic influence.
The following, evidently dating from an early period,
affords us an indirect but all the more valuable light on
the subject. " These are trusted to testify when they are
grown up concerning what they saw in their childhood.
A man is trusted to say : * This is the handwriting of my
father, and this is the handwriting of my teacher, and this
is the handwriting of my brother.' " 4 The mention of the
teacher should not be overlooked. It goes to support the
view that in those circles where boys were given a literary
education this would commonly include also writing. It
cannot be spoken of as a regular subject at a time when
READING WRITING AEITHMEHC 81
even a knowledge of reading, which fulfilled a direct
religious need, was yet very far from general. It was
taught by the father, or by a private teacher, either for
general purposes or as a special trade.
On the other hand, there is abundant evidence that in
the later period, and especially in Babylonia, writing was
uncommon. It was regarded as a specialised art and was
not taught in the elementary school "How many re-
mained of Sennacherib *s army?" the Talmud asks. " Rav
(d. 247 C.E.) says, ten; for it is written in Isaiah, ' And the
remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, and a child
shall write them down. 3 Now how much can a child write
down? Ten." This is explained to mean that a child
could only let fall a drop of ink, and this would resemble
in shape the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet of which
the numerical value is ten. That is all that a child was
expected to be able to do.
From the fourth century C.E. there is a story of a scholar
who was urged by some people, against his better judg-
ment, to write a certain document. In order to get rid of
them he told his scribe to write out the alphabet. He was
apparently sure they would not know the difference. From
the same century we read of another scholar, this time in
Palestine, who said that if he could find someone to write
for him he would send a letter, embodying some point of
law, to a colleague of his. This is followed by the ques-
tion how he could cause such a letter to be written in
view of the prohibition of reducing the "Oral Law" to
The following is even more significant. " A scholar must
learn three things: writing; the slaughtering of animals
(in the Jewish manner); and circumcision." Another ver-
sion of the same tradition, dating from the third cen-
tury C.E., is then cited, which adds to the above three some
other things. The divergence is explained by the fact that
82 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
the other things "are common" and need no particular
mention. Writing, then, was quite clearly uncommon in
the third century at any rate in the Babylonian com-
munities. The scholar, according to the comment of a
reliable authority, might need a knowledge of writing for
an occasional signature when acting as judge or witness.
The general population, apart from the professional scribes
or clerks, had little or no use for it. From the middle of
the second century education steadily became more general,
but at the same time also more narrow in its scope.
Religion was becoming co-terminous with life. A time
was soon to come when the Jew would treat his home
with the sanctity of the Synagogue, and the Synagogue
with the familiarity of the home. Education was the in-
strument which was to achieve this re-evaluation of the
social and cultural life in the terms of religion. Whatever
did not help the accomplishment of this task was discarded.
The pupil of the Hellenistic school could make his own
books by writing from the dictation of his teacher. The
Jewish boy was expressly forbiden to write scrolls of the
Law. With what reverence the writing of the scrolls was
regarded may be seen from the following.
Rabbi Meir, a famous scholar of the second century C.E.,
relates: "When I came to Rabbi Ishmael to learn the
Torah he asked me what was my occupation and I told
him I was a writer of scrolls. He then said to me, 'My
son, be careful with your work. Should you omit a single
letter, or add one, you would destroy the whole world/ "
Even for a short quotation from the Bible, consisting of
three or four words, the paper, or parchment, had to be
ruled in the same manner as for the writing of a scroll.
As to the " Oral Law," the general rule forbade its reduc-
tion to writing, although some scholars did apparently
possess their private collections of texts. The same pro-
hibition against writing also applied to the liturgy. In
READING WRITING ARITHMETIC 83
these circumstances It was only natural that the average
boy did not learn the art of writing. It became a
specialised trade. There were communal scribes, or clerks,
for the purpose of dealing with various legal documents.
There were also scribes, a kind of secretaries, attached to
the heads of the Academies. These were sometimes so
expert in all that concerned their profession that even the
sages themselves could not hold their own against them.
Boys apparently were apprenticed to these scribes in the
same manner as to any other tradesmen. But this would be
after school age. The elementary school Itself in that
period did not as a rule teach writing to Its pupils. 5
BIBLE LITURGY " ORAL LAW "
I. The close association of the school and the Synagogue.
Scriptural readings in the Synagogue. The septennial, the
triennial and the annual cycles. The lessons from the Pro-
phets. The Hagiographa. The manner of reading. II. Bible
studies in the school followed the order of the weekly readings
in the Synagogue. Children were encouraged to read and
translate in public. The Bible syllabus in earlier and in later
times. A good knowledge of the Pentateuch was common
among children in the later centuries of the Talmudic period.
III. The practice of beginning in school with Leviticus. Sug-
gested reasons for this practice. The assumption that it origin-
ated before the fall of the state. Criticism of the current views.
The origin must be sought in post-temple times. The practice
was a means of securing a place on the curriculum for '* the
law of the priests " which had gone out of use. IV. The
liturgy occupied a prominent place in the elementary school.
The festivals. The " Haggadah " for Passover as a textbook.
The " Shema." The " Hallel " and the " Grace." Benedic-
tions. The difficulty of acquiring a correct knowledge of the
liturgy owing to its fluid form. Children were expected to
have a good knowledge of it. The story of the sage and the
schoolboy. V. In the earlier period elementary education
did not go beyond the " Written Law." Later the " Oral
Law " began to gain in importance at the expense of the Bible.
The difference in this respect between Palestine and Baby-
lonia. Palestinian scholars devoted more attention to the
Scriptures to be able to meet the attacks of Christian contro-
versialists. Scholars who taught the Mishnah to their own
sons. The elementary school, as a rule, did not teach the " Oral
Law." The teaching of swimming an echo of Athenian
practice. The school's active part in the development of re-
IT is easier to determine what the elementary school in the
Talmudic period did not teach than to discover what pre-
BIBLE LITURGY "ORAL LAW" 85
clsely it did teach. The material from which our evidence
is to be drawn consists of a large number of isolated refer-
ences, mostly indirect and often of doubtful authenticity,
scattered throughout rabbinical literature. Without some
reliable guiding principle it would indeed be a hopeless
task to attempt the construction of a more or less coherent
picture out of such material. This guiding principle is to
be found in the view, repeatedly stressed by us, that
the origin of Jewish education must be sought in the
Synagogue, which, as Philo rightly tells us, was from its in-
ception a "house of instruction." The whole work of
education revolved around the Synagogue service, and the
Scriptural readings supplied both the content as well as
the form of instruction. This is true of the academy for
the study of the " Oral Law," where the rabbis followed the
arrangements of the Synagogue readings. It is even more
true of elementary education, of which indeed it has re-
mained a fundamental feature down to the present day. 1
This is not the place for a full discussion of the develop-
ment of the Jewish liturgy, but it may be assumed that
out of the readings of the Law on special occasions, some
of which are already mentioned in the Bible, there evolved
in the early Synagogue the practice of a weekly reading
in which the Pentateuch was completed in seven years.
This gradually developed into a triennial, and later still in
Babylonia into an annual cycle. There is some evidence
that in Babylonia in the third century C.E, such a cycle
was already in existence.
In addition to the Pentateuch, lessons from the Prophets
were read on Sabbaths and feast-days. These are supposed
but without any actual proof to have been introduced
during the Maccabean times. For our enquiry it is rather
an important fact that in these readings all the prophets
are represented, with minor exceptions.
Of the Hagiographa only the five Megilloth (scrolls)
86 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
were read, each on a certain festival with which, for some
reason or another, it had become associated. Of these,
Esther was, perhaps, the most popular. But the Psalms
have, of course, largely entered into the composition of
It should be added that these Bible lessons were not
read by an official of the Synagogue, but by members of
the congregation, mostly ordinary, though naturally
educated, laymen, of whom at least seven were "called
up " on the Sabbath and a lesser number on festivals, each
one reading his own portion. It is significant that when
this practice was discontinued generally in the Middle
Ages, it still remained in force for boys "called up" in
the Synagogue on reaching their religious majority at
thirteen, who, to the present day, are expected to do their
own reading. It will be readily seen what a powerful
stimulus this custom was for the promotion of literary
With these data before us we may be able to conjecture
the course of studies of an average Jewish boy in those
He would begin with the alphabet a difficult subject
which would claim much time and attention. From this
he would be taken directly to the Pentateuch without any
intermediate stage. For this purpose there was a special
children's scroll which, in the earlier period, contained the
beginning of Genesis up to the story of the Flood. After
the destruction of the temple, as will be explained later,
this was changed to the first eight chapters of Leviticus,
which consist of the " Laws " of the various sacrifices.
There is no means of telling how long this preliminary
study would take. The nature of the task, especially when
Hebrew was no longer the vernacular, will be more readily
BIBLE LITURGY" ORAL LAW" 87
grasped when we remember that the text consisted prac-
tically of consonants alone, and that correct reading,
although aided by meaning and context, was yet largely
a matter of mechanical memory.
After such a training the average boy would be ready
to enter upon a more or less regular course of biblical
studies, following the order of the weekly reading in the
Synagogue. In the early period at any rate this was not
a fixed quantity, the length of the portion to be read de-
pending on the individual reader, or on the Synagogue
official. And so we are told in an early tradition that
" school-children used to arrange the portions and read by
the light of a candle" on Friday night. Elsewhere we
read of the "hazzan " something like a modern beadle
who is engaged in " arranging the beginnings of the por-
tions." The Synagogue itself was sometimes called by a
name which had reference to this arrangement of the
weekly readings. 3
Children were encouraged to read and translate In
public, especially in the earlier period. In a manner some-
what similar to the modern practice a teacher would
privately prepare the boy for the reading of a portion of
the Pentateuch, or the lesson from the Prophets. He and
the father would then be present in the Synagogue to hear
the boy read. 4 A bright boy might even conceive the
ambition of reading in public the whole Book of Esther.
We actually hear of two such boys in the second century
C.E. Later, however, such ambitions were discouraged. 5
In the early period, when education was a private in-
stitution, there could be no uniform beginning age. Yet
a boy who would get an education at all would probably
commence at the age of five or six, We may assume such
a boy to spend a year or so on preliminary studies the
alphabet and the special scroll. After that his lessons
would be modelled on the Synagogue scheme for readings
88 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
from Scripture, calculated to cover the whole of the Penta-
teuch in seven years. He would thus complete the " study
of the Law " at thirteen the year in which he attains his
religious majority and which would also mark the end of
his elementary education. This might be no more than
a coincidence, but it fitted in well with the general view
that at thirteen a boy became, in his own person, respon-
sible for the observance of the Commandments. 6 The
prophetic lessons would be studied at the same time,
although there is reason to believe that a good knowledge
of the Prophets, even of a book like Isaiah, was in those
days not common among children.
Of the books of the " Kethubim " the Psalms and Esther
would claim attention on account of their prominence in
the Synagogue. The Book of Proverbs, on the other hand,
has always been considered to possess special educational
value, and there is evidence that it was sometimes studied
even before the prophets, at least those of the prophets
that were not drawn upon for Synagogue readings. The
Book of Job, there is reason to think, was not taught to
children, either on account of its difficulty or of its un-
With the introduction of the triennial, or, as in Baby-
lonia, the annual, cycle, it became more difficult for educa-
tion to follow the Synagogue. Some schools, to judge from
a popular practice of post-Talmudic times, would probably
arrange their curriculum on a concentric plan, studying
each year a little more of the weekly portion until the
whole ground was covered. Others would adopt the
simpler plan of working through the books of the Bible
in their order. Others still would confine their attention
mainly to the " five books/' A sage of the fourth century
C.E, tells us that it is the father's duty to teach his son the
Pentateuch alone. 8
A good knowledge of this book, at any rate, was very
BIBLE LITURGY "ORAL LAW" 89
common amongst children In the later centuries of the
Talmudic period. An average boy that is, " one who is
neither clever nor foolish " was expected to be able to read
in a scroll even a word in which the first letter was defaced
or nibbed out. And when in the discussions in the
academy a pentateuchal verse was quoted by way of
proof it was often accompanied by the phrase : " Go and
learn it in the elementary school," or, "Even school-
children know it." And this was by no means a mere
There is one question in connection with our subject
which has so far received no satisfactory solution.
From various Talmudic references we know that it was
customary for children to begin their study of the Bible
with the Book of Leviticus. This became a firmly estab-
lished practice in post-Talmudic times, and is still followed
to a certain extent even in present days.
Educationally considered, one could hardly find a more
unsuitable beginning for young children, especially when
compared with such a book as Genesis, with its natural
appeal to the youthful imagination. It may therefore be
taken for granted that there must have been a very strong
reason for the introduction of such a practice. But what
was that reason? Let us first hear the testimony of the
Rabbi Assi third century C.E. says: "Why are chil-
dren made to begin with the * law of the priests ' (Leviticus)
and are not made to begin with Genesis? Because
the Holy One, blessed be He, said, " Since the children are
pure and the sacrifices are pure, let the pure (children)
come and engage in the study of the pure (sacrifices).' " 10
Now this is on the face of it an after-thought, intended
to supply a reason for a custom which had become, or
po THE JEWISH SCHOOL
was becoming, prevalent. It quite obviously holds no
water, and with a little ingenuity, of which the rabbis had
no lack, no less cogent " reasons " could be discovered why
children should begin with almost any other part of the
Bible. But the explanations of modern writers are scarcely
more satisfactory. Bacher, who like other writers considers
the custom to have originated before the destruction of
the temple, suggests that it arose in the schools of Jeru-
salem, where the pupils were priestly children. The teach-
ing of Leviticus was intended as a means of initiating them
into priestly life. But even if one could imagine schools
of the kind suggested in Jerusalem, for which there is no
evidence at all, it would still fail to explain the general
acceptance of the custom and its remarkable hold on
Jewry throughout the ages. Jewish religious life found
its expression mainly in the Synagogue with its various
activities. For the communities outside of Jerusalem and
especially for the Diaspora this must have been so even
in temple times. It is most unlikely that parents and
teachers would ignore the demands of their immediate
environment and teach the children first of all the least
suitable part of the Bible because the priests in Jerusalem
might find it useful for their sons.
Another recent writer expresses the view that the nar-
rative of Genesis might be considered " as unfitting, for the
natural innocence and piety of children." But this is an
ultra-modern thought which would hardly occur to a Jew
of the first or second century. Besides, it would be a reason
only for not beginning with Genesis. It does not attempt
to explain the preference over all other books given to
Now the difficulty in finding a satisfactory explanation
for this custom arises from the assumption that its origin
goes back to temple times. Once this assumption is
dropped the custom almost explains itself. The first time
BIBLE LITURGY "ORAL LAW" 91
we hear of It Is in connection with a discussion in the
second century C.E. about special scrolls for children. At
that time, it seems clear, there was no uniform practice:
some began with Genesis, others with Leviticus. All other
passages where this custom is mentioned are of a later
Its origin must be sought in post-temple times probably
after the defeat of Bar-Kochba. The efforts for the re-
covery of political independence ended in disaster. With
these also went the hope for the rebuilding of the temple.
There was the danger that the chapters of the Pentateuch
which dealt with the sacrificial ceremonial now fallen into
disuse might be entirely forgotten. And so children were
made to begin their studies with " the law of the priests,"
securing for that part of the Bible an honoured place in
the religious life of the community. It was one of the
numerous practices of a similar kind affecting the religious,
social and domestic life of the Jew, that took their rise in
the critical days following the disastrous Roman wars. 11
The close connection between education and the Syna-
gogue is shown also by the prominent place given to the
liturgy in the elementary school.
It was apparently an ancient custom to explain to the
people the observances and ceremonials associated with
the various festivals some time before their occurrence* It
is probably in this practice that we shall find the origin
of the public reading of the Torah at first on festivals and
later also on the Sabbaths. 12 Here, too, education followed
the methods of the Synagogue. Thus the group of Psalms,
called the " Hallel," which forms the central feature of the
liturgy on festivals, was made into a special scroll for the
instruction of children. From an early source we know
92 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
that young boys could even lead the congregation in the
recital of these Psalms. 13 Again, the boy is the central
figure in the elaborate home ceremonial on the first night
of Passover, which goes back to very early times.
The whole ceremonial is based on the educationally
significant verse, as it was later interpreted: "And thou
shalt tell thy son." The "Haggadah," as the book con-
taining the service held on that evening is called, may be
regarded as one of the oldest textbooks in the world. It is
in some way a vague anticipation of the theory underlying
the modern "project method." For it is arranged in
the form of an anthology giving extracts from biblical
and early post-biblical literature, with additions from
later times, all organised round the central theme of
Passover which has always had a powerful appeal to the
Jewish child. There are numerous references in rabbinical
literature showing what an important part this festival
played in the practical training as well as in the literary
education of the boy. 14
But apart from the festivals, of which Passover is only
an outstanding example, the liturgy in general formed an
important part of a boy's education. Although in the earlier
period it was not considered obligatory for a boy under
twelve to recite the " Shema," 15 yet this was one of the first
things he learnt, and it was written out for his benefit on a
special scroll. On the other hand, even in those times children
were considered to be obliged to read their prayers and the
'* grace after meals." From an early text we get a glimpse
of the time when education was yet very far from general,
and when a young boy would read the " grace " for his un-
lettered father. " Verily," they said, " a son may recite the
grace for his father . . . but may a curse come upon him "
(the father). 16
It was not a small matter for a child to know the
"grace." Like other prayers and benedictions, it was as
BIBLE LITURGY "ORAL LAW" 93
yet In a fluid state. We hear from the third century of
a famous scholar who, when he had to lead in the " grace,"
was warned beforehand in a delicate manner to make sure
of it. 17
The same was true of the liturgy in general, which was
fluid in form largely as a result of the prohibition to reduce
it to writing. A correct knowledge of even the shorter
benedictions was considered a test of scholarship. " From
a man's benedictions it may be recognised whether he is a
scholar or not." 18
But children, especially in the later period, were expected
to acquire in the school a good knowledge of the ritual of
the Synagogue as well as of the home. The spread of
literary education was accompanied by a general tendency
to assign to the younger boy a more active part in the
religious life of the community and to rely on a mental
rather than on a physical age of fitness for the performance
of observances. 19
And hi a manner which reminds us of Sparta members of
the community in general, not to speak of the scholars,
considered themselves entitled to examine school-children
whenever they thought fit to do so. It can be easily
imagined what such public vigilance meant to the teacher.
It was an accepted custom to stop a boy and ask him:
" Tell me the verse you have learned today "; or, " What
did your teacher teach you today?"
Rabbi Ze'era, we are told, when he felt weak from study,
used to go and sit by the door of a certain "house of
study," saying to himself: " When the sages will go out or
come in, I shall rise before them and so receive a reward
from Heaven for honouring scholars." Once as he sat
there a schoolboy came out, so he asked him : " What did
your teacher teach you?" The child told him he had
learnt that day some benedictions on the eating of veget-
ables, whereupon the sage entered into a discussion with
94 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
the schoolboy trying to prove him wrong. It is rather
interesting that the Talmud, in relating the incident,
decides for the child. 20
Little remains to be said of other formal subjects. In
the earlier period elementary education did not, it would
seem, venture beyond the confines of the " Written Law,"
which was the only textbook in existence. We hear, for
instance, of a rabbi of the second century C.E., who
expressed his surprise when a boy of twelve or thirteen
showed some acquaintance with a certain traditional law. 21
Later, however, especially after the redaction of the
Mishnah was completed in 200 C.E., it was only natural
that the study of the "Oral Law" should gain in im-
portance at the expense of the Bible. A knowledge of the
Bible alone would not help one to escape from the stigma
of being an " am-haarez " " ignoramus." Familiarity
with the "Oral Law" came to be recognised as the only
hallmark of scholarship. It was even possible for a rabbi
in those days to be doubtful about the text of the Ten
It would seem that in this respect there was a difference
between the Babylonian and the Palestinian scholars. The
latter had to meet the attacks of Christian controversialists,
and therefore found it necessary to devote more attention
to the Bible from which both sides drew their arguments. 23
There are numerous references to scholars, in those later
days, who taught Mishnah to their own sons, or sent them
to teachers for that purpose. Some prominent rabbis were
evidently of the opinion that children should study the
Mishnah even before the Prophets. We also hear of a
prodigy, of whom every age has its quota, who at six was
already studying a difficult tractate of the " Oral Law." 24
BIBLE LITURGY "ORAL LAW" 95
It Is, however, quite safe to conclude that these were
only exceptions, and that the elementary school did not,
as a rule, teach the "Oral Law." This belonged to the
curriculum of higher education, and higher education has
always been the privilege of the minority.
The general position may be summed up by the follow-
ing quotation ; " Usually a thousand enter the study of the
Bible; of these one hundred proceed to the Mishnah; of
these, again, ten go forward to the study of the Talmud;
and only one of the whole number attains to the position
of a recognised scholar." 25
As a curiosity it may be mentioned that according to
an anonymous opinion, quoted in an early document, "a
father is obliged to teach his son swimming." There is no
evidence from anywhere else that swimming ever formed
a regular part of a boy's education. It is, however,
reminiscent of Greek custom. According to tradition there
was a law in Athens that every boy should be taught
reading, writing, and swimming. Of an utter dunce it
used to be said : " He knows neither his letters nor how to
swim/' It is not at all unlikely that the Talmudic opinion
was an echo of Greek practice. 26
There is one point which deserves some emphasis before
we leave the subject of the literary curriculum. Accord-
ing to the view presented here, the Synagogue was the
main factor which determined the scope and the organisa-
tion of the studies in the elementary school. It would,
however, be a mistake to think that the latter was merely
an instrument to carry into effect ideas created outside of it.
The function of the school is hardly ever entirely con-
servative in its character. The need for the training of
the young generation supplies a powerful stimulus to the
development of social life. The school not only helps to
preserve old values, but also to create new ones, thus
enriching constantly the life of the community in which it
96 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
carries on its work. And this is particularly true of the
Jewish school in the period with which we are concerned.
The critical second century was a turning-point in the
spiritual no less than in the political history of the Jewish
people. The stream of national life, broad and turbulent
in the preceding three centuries, could henceforth find only
one outlet religion. Synagogue and "house of study"
were to fill the place left empty by the destruction of temple
and kingdom. But the fundamental work of remoulding
the national character, of reforming the whole outlook of
the community, fell chiefly to the elementary school. And
even in the development of the purely formal side of
religious life the latter played a more active part than
appears on the surface. It would not be an exaggeration
to say that even in this respect it gave to the Synagogue
almost as much as it took from it. Religious thought and
practice, both amongst Jews and also amongst others who
came under their influence, owe a greater debt to the
elementary schoolmaster of Talmudic times than has yet
THEORY AND METHOD
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY
I. Rabbinical educational theory. Jewish educational thought
approaches nearer to Herbartianism than to other systems. The
aim of education ; and the means. Illustrations. The place of
the teacher. II. Differences between the two systems. Her-
bart's system was essentially individualistic. In Jewish educa-
tion in post-temple times the social aim predominated. Illustra-
tions from rabbinical literature. III. Rabbinical psychology.
Comparison with Herbart's system. The young child. Adoles-
cence. The " evil inclination " and the *' good inclination."
The emergence of the latter during the period of adolescence.
Substantial agreement of rabbinical views with those of modern
writers. Hall, Slaughter, and Wheeler on adolescence. IV.
The application of rabbinical psychology. A further comparison
with Herbart. The emphasis put by the Jewish teachers on
practical religious training. Intelligence tests. The two main
forces which combined to shape Jewish educational thought.
WE now have to enquire into the theoretical principles
which served as a basis for the methods o the Jewish
school. To attempt the construction of a coherent theory
of education out of the casual sayings scattered in
rabbinical literature would be an almost hopeless task.
Several such attempts have indeed been made, but the
results bear little resemblance to what a modern student
would understand by a philosophy of education. The most
profitable approach seems to be promised by a comparative
method that is, to compare and contrast rabbinical educa-
tional thought, or rather snatches of thought, with some
well-defined modem theory. The latter will supply the
framework around which we may arrange our material
too THE JEWISH SCHOOL
into some form of systematic structure. The theory most
suitable for our purpose would seem to be that of Herbart.
Jewish educational thought approaches nearer to Her-
bartianism than to other systems in many important
What is the aim of education? Herbart gives his answer
in the opening sentence of "The Esthetic Revelation of
the World " : " The one and the whole work of education
may be summed up in the concept of morality." Man's
worth, he tells us elsewhere, does not lie in his knowing
but in his willing. 3 The Jewish teacher answers the ques-
tion in much the same manner. " Not learning but doing
is the chief thing," and "he whose deeds exceed his
wisdom, his wisdom shall endure." 4 The same idea is
expressed in an even stronger form by a teacher of the
third century C.E. : " He who is engaged in mere study is
like one who has no god." 5 And of Raba, a great educa-
tional reformer of the fourth century, we read: "Raba
used to say the end of wisdom is repentance and good
deeds." 6 An analysis of the concept of morality would
disclose rather interesting differences between the ancient
Jewish teacher and the German philosopher of the nine-
teenth century. But this could hardly affect the conclusion
that each of them in his own way regarded the production
of " the good man " as the chief business of education.
The next question is: What are the means leading to
the achievement of this aim? Herbart's answer may be
summed up in one word : knowledge. The human being
is more easily approached through his intellect than
through his sentiments; instruction is therefore the best
means at our disposal. "Educative instruction" is the
characteristic feature of the Herbartian theory of educa-
tion. Without knowledge one cannot be good. " The chief
seat of the cultivation of character is in the culture of the
circle of thought." "Instruction will form the circle of
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 101
thought, and education the character. The last is nothing
without the first. Herein is contained the whole sum of
my pedagogy." And again: "I have no conception of
education without instruction; just as conversely, I do not
acknowledge any instruction which does not educate." 7
The Jewish teacher would go a long way in his agreement
with Herbart on this point. There is abundant evidence
for this in Talmudic literature, but a few examples must
suffice. " Study is great because it leads to action," " The
Holy One, blessed be He, has created the * evil inclination '
(appetitive instincts or animal desires), but He created the
Torah (knowledge) as an antidote/' " There is no remedy
against the * evil inclination * but the study of the Torah." 8
Among the innumerable variations on this theme one
sometimes comes across a passage like the following, which
is curiously Herbartian in tone and outlook :
"... If you have a cup full of oil in your hand, and a
drop of water falls into it, a drop of oil will be displaced;
so if a word of the Torah enters the mind, it displaces an
unworthy thought, and vice versa" 9 Compare this with
Herbart: " Ignoti nulla cupido! . . . The circle of thought
contains the store of that which by degrees can mount by
the steps of interest to desire, and then by means of action
to volition ... if inner assurance and the intellectual
interests are wanting, if the store of thought be meagre,
the ground lies empty for the animal desires. mo
In Herbart's system the teacher is all-important. He is
to supply the instruction which is to form the circle of
thought, which in its turn is to serve as the basis of
character. Herbartianism has indeed with some justice
been characterised as "the schoolmaster come to his own." 11
In Jewish education, too, for a variety of reasons, the
teacher is assigned an exalted position. " What the teacher
did not teach, the pupil could not know/' was accepted as
an axiom. " The plastered cistern that never loses a drop "
IDS THE JEWISH SCHOOL
was the description of an ideal pupil. And a great scholar
could boast that he had never taught anything which he
had not learned from his teachers. 12
This coincidence of view between Herbartianism and
Jewish educational thought is impressive enough, as far as
it goes. On closer analysis, however, it will prove to be
merely "skin-deep." For the differences between the two
systems are profound, revealing a fundamental divergence
in educational outlook.
Herbarfs system was essentially individualistic. With
him the chief consideration was the perfection of individual
character rather than the training for citizenship. 13 With
such an end in view, the content of instruction had to be
made rich and many-sided. This was also required by his
psychological theory of the formative value of instruction.
In this, no less than in his influence on method, lies
Herbart's importance for the history of education.
Jewish education set out on its long career with a simliar
individualistic conception. But this belongs to what may
be called its prehistoric period. Then it was the father's
business to teach his son his duties to God and man. The
community as such had neither control nor responsibility
in the matter.
It is not too much to say that had this view prevailed
Jewish education would have had no history. Nor perhaps
the Jewish people either. But after a leisurely and rather
undistinguished existence, during 500 years or so, education
was thrown by force of circumstances into a position of
enormous importance. The disastrous issue of the Roman
wars at the beginning of the present era had deprived the
people of their political institutions including the temple
the outward expression of religious and national unity.
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 103
Education was called upon to fill the void. The school
became the focus of the vital energies of the community,
the chief weapon in its fight for existence. Individual per-
fection was not ignored, but it was overshadowed by the
greater need of national preservation. But this broadening
of function carried with it a necessary restriction of content.
Knowledge was narrowed down In Its connotation until It
came to be identified with the study of the Torah. Classical
culture, " Greek wisdom," as It was called, was put under
the ban; it was rigidly kept out of the school. The study
of the Torah alone offered a suitable outlet for social
activity as well as a promise of survival.
In this light are to be read the eulogies of the study of
the Torah of which the rabbis never tired. The following
may be taken as examples :
" And yet for all that when they be in the land of their
enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them "
thus the Bible in the name of God. " But what is there left
to Israel?'* ask the rabbis; "have not all the good gifts
been taken from them? It Is the book of the Law. But
for the existence of this they would not be distinguished
from other nations at all." The study of the Torah is
greater than the rebuilding of the temple; than the offering
of regular sacrifices ; than priesthood or kingdom. " Since
the destruction of the temple the Holy One, blessed be He,
has nothing else In His world but the four cubits of the
Law." " School-children are not to be interrupted in their
studies even for the sake of rebuilding the temple." " The
scholar takes precedence over the King of Israel." " Even
a non-Jew who is engaged In the study of the Torah Is
equal to the High Priest." " Only he who is occupied In
the study of the Torah Is really free." 14
Note the regularly recurrent contrast: Temple and
Kingdom on the one hand; Torah on the other. This is
not accidental, nor is it a striving after literary effect. It
io 4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
is meant to drive home the idea that the Torah is now to
take the place of " all the good gifts "; it is to become the
chief content of national life. One cannot fail to hear the
people's " will to live " speaking through all this. This
" will to live " was the driving force behind the intensive
development of the Jewish school from the second century
The ground has now been sufficiently prepared for the
interesting but difficult question : What were the psycho-
logical principles underlying the rabbinical theory of educa-
tion? This is not meant to imply that the rabbis had a
scientifically formulated psychological theory. Theirs was
a popular psychology, or rather a body of current views and
beliefs, based partly on tradition, partly on experience and
observation. Foreign ideas, Greek and others, naturally
found their way into this psychology and easily merged
with it. Nor could there be anything like strict consistency
of view, considering the length of the period and the
number of scholars concerned.
Nevertheless, it is beyond doubt that there were some
fundamental views on the nature of mind, especially that
of the child, held commonly among Jewish teachers of
those times. The virtual uniformity in the practice of edu-
cation testifies to a corresponding uniformity of theory.
It should be added that this question is of more than
merely historical interest. For, in essentials, the Jewish
school has shown little change down to most recent times.
Here, too, a comparison with a clear-cut theory like
Herbart's seems to offer a promising method of approach.
Roughly speaking, the Herbartian theory regards the mind
as merely a stage for the interplay of ideas, or " presenta-
tions/' acquired from without. In itself it can make no
contribution to the action of these ideas. It is an unknown
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 105
" something " whose function it is not easy to see* " The
soul is originally a tabula rasa in the most absolute sense,
without any form of life or presentation; consequently,
there are in it neither primitive ideas, nor any predisposi-
tion to form them. All ideas, without exception, are a
product of time and experience." 15 Mind, then, is nothing
but what is put into it; or in Dewey's words : " The furni-
ture of the mind is the mind/' Applied to education it
means that " nurture " the manipulation of environment
becomes all-important; whilst "nature" or native en-
dowment, if not entirely ignored, is at best given only a
What were the views of the rabbis on the nature of the
mind? It is difficult, if at all possible, to knit their dis-
connected sayings into a coherent picture. But this much
is quite clear : Herbart's intellectualistic psychology would
have been incomprehensible to them. The natural endow-
ment of the human being, his innate tendencies and dis-
positions, were fully recognised by them and even exag-
gerated. Like Rosseau, they might also say that "there
is no original corruption in the human heart." The
original purity of the soul is repeatedly emphasised by
them. 16 But not because it is a "blank sheet" ready to
receive any writing that might be put on it. On the con-
trary, the child was regarded as an active being, endowed
from birth, or from conception, 17 with strong instinctive
impulses and conative forces, constantly seeking an outlet
for his physical energy. Only that these impulses, although
they may be " evil," are not therefore immoral. For, to
quote again Rousseau, with whom the Jewish teachers
would agree: "As the child is wholly unmoral in his
actions, he can do nothing morally wrong." 18
The turning-point is reached at the age of thirteen,
when the voice of his higher nature is first heard, and
nobler impulses begin to make themselves felt in his
io6 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
actions. This appears clearly enough in the following
passage, if sufficient allowance is made for the quaint
phraseology in which the ideas are clothed :
"What is the evil inclination ('yezer ra')? 19 It is said,
the evil inclination is older than the good inclination
(* yezer tov ') by thirteen years. From the mother's womb
it grows up with the man. When he begins to desecrate
the Sabbath, it makes no protest ... to do any wrong deed
... it makes no protest. After thirteen years the good in-
clination is born. When he is about to desecrate the
Sabbath, it says to him: 'You idler! Is it not written,
"They that profane it shall be put to death!" ' " 20
This is quite typical of rabbinical views on the child
whose "actions are mostly improper," and who is always
prompted by animal desires. But at thirteen he becomes a
man, responsible for his own deeds. 21 One can hear in
this passage an echo of the primitive beliefs which invested
the critical age of puberty with mysterious importance.
Pubertal initiation with its rites and ceremonies was uni-
versal among ancient peoples, and in one form or another
has survived among many of the civilised nations of today.
The "Barmizvah" ceremonial with its modern highly
spiritualised content derives from the same source. 22
But, apart from stylistic crudities, this picture of child-
hood and adolescence is after all not so very unlike that
given us by many modern writers. Thus Rousseau speaks
of the child under twelve as being on the level of the
savage man, whose only law is natural necessity. And
Stanley Hall, the father of the child-study movement, de-
scribes the child of this age as " not depraved, but only in
a savage or half-animal state." He has " much selfishness
and little sentiment." He revels in savagery, but " reason,
true morality, religion, love, and aesthetic enjoyments are
but slightly developed. . . ."
Then comes adolescence, "a marvellous new birth,"
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 107
when " powers and faculties, essentially non-existent before,
are born . . . the previous religious sentiments are re-
generated and some arise for the first time . . . and the
ethical life is immensely broadened and deepened. It is
the age of sentiment and religion . . , of religious impres-
sionability in general and of conversion in particular." 23
Dr. Slaughter, following Hall, tells us that "the chief
facts illustrating the new orientation of thought and feel-
ing are present in adolescent religion. Religious sentiment
is, at least for a time, the dominant one in the youthful
character." He speaks not only of an awakening, but of
"conversion" as being "the central experience of adoles-
cent religion/' 24 Professor Wheeler in her experimental
investigations found that " the more usual experience was
that of a gradual awakening to spiritual values " rather
than a sudden conversion. But she also reaches the con-
clusion that " the generalisation that an awakening to the
spiritual universe is natural to the period of adolescence
can be safely drawn"; that "in a society like ours the
search for a religion is characteristic of the adolescent." 25
There seems to be no reason why the phenomena de-
scribed here should be restricted to a " society like ours/'
And, as will be seen from the Talmudic passages given
before, the Jewish teachers of those times had more than a
glimpse of the physiological and psychological crises accom-
panying the transition from childhood to adolescence.
The "good inclination," so prominent in rabbinical
literature and later, like its counterpart, even personified, is
not a name for reason or intelligence. " It is the paradox of
intelligence," McDougaU tells us, " that it directs forces or
energies without being itself a force or energy/' 26 The
rabbis conceived it rather as an impulse or instinctive force.
They denote it by the same term as the evil inclination
" yezer." It is at bottom the same as the " self-regarding
sentiment" or "the higher social instinct" of modern
io8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
psychologists the growing sense of the unified personality.
It is " born " during adolescence, at about the age of thir-
teen, and begins to fight its battle for the salvation of the
youthful soul. It is then that there begins " the quest for
sanctity which is perpetually foiled by the bondage of the
flesh "; the inner conflict out of which emerges character.
The " evil inclination " was not left in unchallenged pos-
session of the child's soul. Every available means was used
to combat it. There was, in the first place, the study of the
Torah on which the child entered at the age of five or six.
But study, with all its efficacy as a builder of character, was
not considered sufficient. In addition there was practice :
an intensive system of training In religious observances and
in the social customs of the community. In the words of a
rabbi of the early second century, "The child was bent
like the twig of a vine when it is still soft" when it
easily responds to external pressure.
A further comparison with Herbart at this point is not
Herbart speaks eloquently of the need of bringing
religion early into the child's life. "Religion will never
occupy that tranquil place in the depths of the heart, which
it ought to possess, if its fundamental ideas are not among
the earliest which belong to recollection if it is not bound
up and blended with all which changing life leaves behind
in the centre of the personality." At the same time he
recognises the danger that a human being, by continually
fixing his mind on the idea of God " would only deform
it it would be degraded to the common-place, even to the
wearisome." He therefore advises us that " we should keep
this idea less active, so that when the man needs it for his
safety in the storms of life it is then unspoiled." " Above
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY 109
all the mind should keep Sabbath In religion. It should
turn to it for rest from aU thoughts, desires, cares." 27
Jewish education took the opposite line. Its view may
be best stated in the words of the Psalmist : " I set the Lord
always before me." The idea of God was not an object for
reflection, or even a refuge from worldly cares. It was the
active force of a religious system which was co-extensive
with life, for the child as well as for the adult. The child
was not encouraged to indulge in religious contemplation
he was trained to live his religion. The Sabbath and
festivals, the home, the school, and the Synagogue all pro-
vided opportunities for his religious experiences and invited
his active participation. Religious ceremonial with its rich
and colourful symbolism made a powerful appeal to his
love for ritual. Much of it was especially designed for this
purpose. An outstanding case is the Passover night cere-
monial in which the child is assigned a central part. It is
due to this, more than to anything else, that this festival
has retained its favoured position in Jewish life down to
the present day.
There was no fixed age for practical training. It de-
pended upon the nature of the action and upon the mental
rather than the physical age of the learner. " The child
who has reached the stage of training" is a frequently
occurring phrase. But this, as is rightly explained by a
later commentator, did not represent a fixed point. It
varied with the subject of training- Nor were individual
differences ignored. " According to the child's understand-
ing his father should teach him/' And there was a popular
saying that "human minds are as dissimilar as human
faces " which is strangely reminiscent of Locke's : " Each
man's mind has some peculiarity as well as his face." 28
Sometimes an intelligence test was employed to deter-
mine the child's fitness for the performance of a certain
religious observance. Thus, in connection with the " grace
i io THE JEWISH SCHOOL
after meals," we read : " Abaye and Raba (botb children)
sat before Kabbah. Said Rabbah to them : * To whom do
we pray?' * To God/ they answered. * And where is God?'
Raba pointed to the ceiling; Abaye went outside and
pointed to the sky. So Rabbah said to them : ' Both of you
will be scholars.' " 29
It may be said in passing that, judging from higher
education, the tests were not always of such a simple
nature. They sometimes contained the type of " catch "
which is favoured also by some modern examiners.
That the age of initiation into religious observances
varied with individual intelligence may be seen from the
" A child who knows how to shake the ' palm-branch ' is
obliged to do it." " A child who no more needs his mother
(that is, if he does not cry for his mother when he awakes
from sleep) is obliged to perform the commandment of
sitting in the * booth * " during the festival of Tabernacles.
" A child who is able to speak, his father is to teach him
the Torah and the Shema." 30
In the same way a child who could hold on to his
father's hand and walk up from Jerusalem to the temple
mount was considered to be obliged to make the pilgrim-
age. And the school of Shammai, who generally represent
the stricter tendency in rabbinical Judaism, would extend
this obligation even to a child who could only ride on his
father's shoulder. 31 Shammai, the founder of this school,
even went to the length of providing that his newborn
grandson should fulfil the commandment of dwelling in
the " sukkah " (booth) for which purpose he dug out the
ceiling over the bed and covered up the opening with
From the foregoing it will be observed that there were
two main forces at work in shaping Jewish educational
thought. Social and political conditions, after the destruc-
THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGY in
tion of the second temple, greatly stimulated the Intelleo
tualistic tendency. The study of the Torah became the
chief expression of national life. But religious require-
ments, reinforced by the current views on the nature of
childhood, demanded attention to practical training. The
result was a system of education in which study and prac-
tice, learning and doing, received equal emphasis. One
was chiefly the responsibility of the school; the other of
the home. But there was no sharp delimitation of spheres :
father and teacher supplemented each other's efforts in a
spirit of eager co-operation. The efficiency of the Jewish
school as an instrument for the preservation of communal
life was largely due to this successful combination of the
intellectual and the practical. It remained a characteristic
feature of Jewish education down to the nineteenth century.
L Memory In modern educational theory. The change of atti-
tude towards the problem of the learning process; a result of
the development of psychological theory and of the great expan-
sion of knowledge. The change in the direction of educational
aims from the past to the future; the shifting of prominence
from the conservative to the creative aim in education. II.
Jewish education in ancient times was mainly concerned
with the past. Illustrations from the Talmud. III. Political
conditions forced the people to seek a refuge in the past from
a difficult present. The memories of the past were kept
alive by a system of ritual and ceremonial. The school's con-
tribution to the development of this system. " Pure " memory
and " rote *' memory. Quintilian's views on memory. Jewish
teachers were aware of the value of logical order and system.
Yet Talmudic literature exhibits a " woeful lack of systematic
arrangement." IV. The fundamental fact: Jewish educa-
tion in Talmudic times was largely a bookless system. The
studies in the high school were carried on without the use of
written texts. The anxiety for preserving the sacred literature.
The dependence upon the teacher. The position in the elemen-
tary school. The absence of a vowel system. V. The Bible
identifies the heart with the seat of intellectual powers. Com-
parison with Plato and Aristotle. Illustrations from the Bible.
The Talmudic view of memory. Superstitions about memory.
Astonishing feats of memory.
IN the following chapters we will deal with the methods
of instruction in the early Jewish school. These are
grouped together round the central theme of memory,
with the exception of the subjects of reading, translation,
and discipline, which are treated separately. We have
adopted this arrangement because of the predominant
place held by memory in classical education. Indeed, this
may be said to form the most striking difference between
the ancient and the modern views on method,
The modern educationist uses the term " memory," when
he cannot avoid it, almost in an apologetic manner. Even
if he is not prepared to follow the behaviourist and banish
it out of his dictionary along with other "psychological
superstitions," he prefers to treat of the subject indirectly
under various disguises. He is afraid of the taint of
"faculty psychology," which seems to cling to the very
word; and he feels somewhat uneasily that that theory has
the knack of "coming in by the window when driven out
through the door."
He is, indeed, aware that, no matter what theory of
learning he may adopt, the school cannot dispense with
memorisation work. But, following Bergson, he is careful
to distinguish between " pure " or logical memory, and
merely mechanical or " rote " memory. The latter, to be
sure, has its uses, and its working demands attention and
investigation, but the emphasis must be placed on the
former. And the course of " pure J * memory is dependent
not so much upon such mechanical means as the fre-
quency and recency of the repetition of an act, as upon the
strength of the impression left by it, upon the learner's
ability to see it in its various relationships, upon the
number and nature of the formed associations. " The atti-
" tude of the pupil must be : *I perceive this just as it is and
in all its bearings'; not: *I must remember this.* If the
original perception ... is what it should be accurate,
comprehensive, and independent memory may be left
very largely to take care of itself/' 1
This view of memory, now almost commonplace among
educationists, is not to be regarded as entirely, or even
largely, the result of the development of psychological
theory. Psychology has merely sanctioned that which life
has rendered inevitable. The vast expansion of knowledge
ii4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
in modern times and the bewildering rapidity of its growth
have compelled a change of attitude towards the whole
problem of the learning process.
In the present conditions of scientific progress it is skills
and attitudes and methods that matter rather than the
positive quantity of knowledge carried in the mind. Actual
information is useful, but it is not nearly so important as
the ability to find it when needed. The outstanding char-
acteristic of the New Education the shifting of the centre
of interest from the subject-matter to the learner derives
very largely from the same cause. We no longer attempt
"to teach all men all things"; we are content to teach
some men how to learn, largely for themselves, a few
things. And the measure of a teacher's success is not the
quantity of knowledge imparted to a pupil, but the avail-
ability of that knowledge for future use; the power acquired
by the pupil as a result of his education to break fresh
ground, to face and solve hitherto unencountered prob-
lems. Aiming, as he does, not so much at knowledge as at
the power resulting from it, the modern educationist need
not be a cynic in order to assert that " the value of for-
gotten knowledge is very great/' The dethronement of
memory has been an inevitable incident in the profound
change that has taken place in the meaning of education.
No less significant is the change in the direction of edu-
cational aims. Not so long ago education was mainly
defined in terms of the preservation and transmission of
the cultural treasures accumulated in the past. Education
was mainly looking backward. Nowadays, whatever the
definition of education, the future will occupy an in-
creasingly prominent part in it. It is not so much the
achievements of humanity but its unlimited potentialities
that compel the attention of the educationist. The creative
element is steadily gaining at the expense of the conserva-
tive. This is reflected not only in the teacher's aims but
also In Ms methods. It Is exemplified In such movements
as the Heuristic method, the Project method, the Direct
method in language teaching, and the Inductive method
in grammar. Wherever he can, the modem teacher places
his pupil In the position of an explorer who has to blaze
his own trail; to discover new worlds, or at least to redis-
cover the old ones, but as much as possible by his own
efforts. In such a scheme of things mechanical memory
can play but a minor part. For although indispensable to
progress In the future, It is the chief method for the pre-
servation of the past. It Is essentially the Instrument not of
exploration but of tradition.
These views on method would sound very strange, If at
all comprehensible, to the Jewish teacher of Talmudic
times. If we are to understand his point of view, the first
essential Is a proper historic perspective. There is no such
thing as method In the abstract; it cannot be studied In
separation from the content, nor from the aim of educa-
tion. And these In their turn reflect the religious, social,
political, and economic conditions of a given period.
Jewish education in Talmudic times, and this Is largely
true of classical education in general, was concerned with
the preservation of that which is rather than with striving
for that which might be. It aimed to perpetuate a system
of life the fundamentals of which were supposed to have
been fixed for all time. The task of the school consisted In
the transmission of the literature in which that system of
life was embodied. And that literature, again, had well-
defined limits. The principal part of it, the Hebrew Bible,
had, in the later Talmudic period at any rate, already
reached finality of form. The content of the other part,
the "Oral Law," was still in a fluid state. It grew at a
n6 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
rapid rate and expanded to an enormous extent. And yet
Its limitations were clearly recognised: the religious and
moral fundamental principles which were regarded as un-
alterable. The intellectual activity of the academies in
Talmudic times reminds one of Jeremiah's description of
the waves of the sea: "Though they toss themselves, yet
can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not
pass over " the boundary set " by a perpetual decree." 2
An example will make this last point clear. An un-
named scholar of Jamnia is reputed to have been able to
adduce 150 arguments to prove that certain reptiles should
be considered ceremonially clean against the explicit
statement of the Torah. 3 The point that should be grasped
is that even if that scholar were in earnest which he was
not all his brilliant arguments would shatter themselves
in vain against the rock of that biblical statement. And
this applies to any other similar statement or even oral
tradition. At the most these could be adjusted; they could
never be abrogated. It was, in short, a system of culture
and education the direction of which was towards the past.
From the past it drew its ideals and its inspiration; from
there, too, it had to obtain its sanction and justification for
whatever adjustments might be forced upon it by changing
It is beyond the scope of the present study to enquire
into the causes for this particular direction of Jewish educa-
tion. It will be sufficient to suggest that in the political
conditions of Jewish life, almost throughout the period of
which we have an historic record, the people were forced
to seek a refuge in the past from a present which was all
too often intolerable.
Occasionally this flight from the present took an oppo-
site direction and expressed itself in Messianic Utopias, in
Ireams of an Ideally perfect state In the distant future
:he prophetic " latter days." But even a cursory acquaint-
mce with prophetic writings will show that it Is quite in-
rorrect to say, as some writers do, 4 that the Jews, unlike
>ther classical peoples, fixed their "golden era" In the
:uture. On the contrary, the chief content of Jewish cul-
:ure as well as of Jewish education was tradition, the
nemories of the past, with the departure from Egypt as its
:entral fact. These memories were kept alive by a system
)f ritual and ceremonial wiiich In Talmudic times had
dready achieved an extraordinary richness and variety,
lardly paralleled in the history of any other people.
JThroughout his life, from birth to death, the Jew was sur-
rounded by an endless succession of sign and symbol cease-
lessly exhorting him " to remember."
To the development of this symbolism the school contri-
buted Its share, collaborating with the home and the Syna-
gogue In the practical, religious, and moral training of the
:hlld. 5 So far It was " pure " memory that was Involved :
-emembering ideas and meanings, the historic and religious
significance of the rites and ceremonies into which the
:hild was Initiated from his earliest days. But the chief
business of the school was with literary education, with the
preservation and transmission of the national sacred litera-
ture. And here, unlike the practical training, the whole
emphasis was laid by the teacher both in elementary and
higher education on " rote " memory, assisted by mechani-
cal, too often quite trivial, associations; arbitrary though
sometimes ingenious " aids "; but kept going in the main
by endless repetition.
Judged by present-day standards these methods would
appear to be "cruelly wasteful and educationally detri-
mental " to use the expression of a modem writer on the
subject of "rote memory," Even the elementary dictates
of common sense seem to have been disregarded at least
ii8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
in the higher schools. Thus Quintilian, a contemporary of
some of the best-known Talmudic teachers, realises that
" the most efficacious and almost the only means " to
ensure retentiveness, "except exercise which is the most
powerful of all," "are di\ision and arrangement/' All
parts that cohere together will help to guide the memory.
" As we learn by heart verse better than prose, so we learn
compact prose better than such as is ill-connected/' 6
The Jewish teachers no doubt knew the value of logical
order and systematic arrangement no less than Quintilian,
as is evident from numerous references in the Talmud. 7
Indeed, the collection of the Talmudic material, its division
into volumes and the subdivision of the latter into tractates,
chapters, and paragraphs, bears witness not only to the
extraordinary industry of those teachers but to an organ-
ising ability of a high order. And yet it is quite true, as
Strack says/ that " within the (Talmudic) tractates there is
manifested a woeful lack of systematic arrangement." The
order according to subject-matter is departed from in
numerous places, and statutes are collected together be-
cause they are similar in one respect, although quite dis-
similar in others; again, cases are brought together be-
cause they refer to the same person, or because they go by
the same number, or because the sentences rhyme or follow
alphabetical order. 9 The Aristotelian Laws of Association
(and there can be little doubt that Jewish teachers had a
general acquaintance with them) were stretched to the
uttermost degree and made to cover any conceivable con-
nection between things however flimsy or accidental. 10
We shall not be able to understand the cause of this
" woeful lack of system " unless we grasp the fundamental
fact that we are dealing with what was largely a bookless
education system. For the high school this is almost
literally true; even in the elementary school this was the
case to a great extent. This was the determining factor
which overshadowed all other considerations and made
Jewish education different from any other known system.
Whatever view we adopt as to the date of the writing
down of the Mishnah, 11 it is certain that in the Talmudic
high school the studies and discussions were conducted
without the use of written copies to serve as a basis. As to
these discussions themselves, they were certainly not re-
duced to writing until after the close of the Talmudic age.
There were scholars whose special function it was to carry
in their mind the Mishnaic literature on which all the dis-
cussions were based and who were used as a kind of living
reference-book. Learning was locked up in the brains of
the scholars. It was a time when a famous scholar could
boast that " he never said anything he had not heard from
his teachers "; and the greatest praise that could be given
to a pupil was to call him " a plastered cistern which does
not lose a drop." 12 Underlying all their educational
activities was the constant anxiety for the preservation of
the literature which, especially in post-temple times, came to
be regarded as the justification for the people's existence.
It would be a mistake to think that there was any lack of
recognition for creative capacity, quickness of perception,
or the value of system and method. The ability of logical
deduction, of "inferring one proposition from another/'
was highly valued. The pupil's self-activity was encouraged
in various forms. Nor were the teachers unappreciative of
the fact that to teach others is a sure means of widening
as well as deepening one's own knowledge. "R. Nahman
ben Isaac said: *Why are the words of the Torah com-
pared to a tree, as it is said (Prov. iii. 18), "It is a tree of
life to them that take hold of it "? To teach you that just
as a small piece of wood sets alight a big one, so do the
120 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
small scholars sharpen the great ones. That Is why R.
Hanina said : " I learnt much from my teachers; still more
from my colleagues; but most of all from my pupils." ' "
And again : " Two students who arrange to study together
the Holy One, blessed be He, loves them."
The comment of the Talmud on this saying throws a
flood of light on the conditions of education in those times :
"This applies only to a case where there Is no teacher In
the town from whom they might learn." This is repeated
in other places. "He who studies by himself cannot be
compared to him who learns from a teacher." " Provide
yourself with a teacher and be quit of doubt." And
again, hyperbolically : " He who says something which he
has not heard from his teacher causes the Divine Presence
to depart from Israel." 13 The dependence upon the teacher
was indeed absolute and lasted for many years. "What
the teacher did not teach the pupil cannot know " was a
popular saying. 14 For what was the use of ability or
method when one simply had no material upon which
these could be exercised?
Although the preceding discussion deals with higher
education, it is in a large measure applicable also to the
elementary school. The position there was somewhat
different, since the principal subject of study the Hebrew
Bible was available in writing. But this was not such a
great advantage as might appear superficially quite apart
from the fact that books, or rather scrolls, were very
scarce and expensive. 15 For in the absence of a vowel sys-
tem the reading depended upon tradition. It had to be
given by the teacher and memorised by the pupil verse by
verse. Great care was exercised in the preparation of the
scrolls, especially in later times. One tradition tells us that
in the times of the second temple there were public officials
whose special duty it was to correct or revise books. There
is also some indication that special attention was given to
scrolls Intended for school use to keep them free from
errors. 16 But the fundamental difficulty remained that of
reading a text consisting practically of consonants alone.
And so both in elementary as well as in higher education
it was one endless grind. System and method were used
for all they were worth, but at best their function could
only be of a limited nature where as much, if not more,
attention had to be given to verbal form as to ideal con-
tent. The full weight was thrown upon mechanical
memory, upon the sheer ability of " rote " repetition, which
came to be regarded as the chief instrument of literary
education. Paraphrasing a saying of Herbart's, one may
say that to the Jewish teacher of Talmudic times the one
and the whole meaning of method was expressed in one
word " memory."
There is no clear distinction in the Bible between the in-
tellectual and the emotional aspects of consciousness, nor
is there anything like strict consistency in connecting the
various mental functions with particular organs of the
body. But in a general way it may be said that the heart,
more often than any other organ, is identified with the
seat of intellectual and volitional powers. The brain, it
has been rightly remarked, is " a quite neglected organ in
Semitic thought." 17
It may be mentioned that this is in agreement with the
view of Aristotle, who also regarded the heart as the cen-
tral organ of sense and intelligence and rejected the theory
of Plato, which assigned these functions to the brain. 18
It would be idle to seek for a theory of memory in the
Bible, or even for any clear statement as to its nature. As
might be expected, it was thought to reside in the heart,
apparently being regarded as an intellectual, or rather
volitional, action. Aristotle also assigned memory to the
122 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
heart, but he, like Plato, stresses the distinction, of which
the Bible it would seem did not know, between memory,
which he does not consider a function of pure intelligence,
and reminiscence depending on reasoning.
"Remembering," or "recalling," is in the Bible fre-
quently synonymous with "coming up to" or "putting
into " the heart. And, conversely, to " forget," or " be for-
gotten," is equivalent to " departing " or " removing " from
the heart. "Remember this, and stand fast; bring it to
heart, O ye transgressors," says the "second" Isaiah. So
also Jeremiah : "... Did not the Lord remember them,
and came it not up into his heart?" Similarly, in Deutero-
nomy the people are warned to take heed " lest they forget
the things they had seen and lest they depart from their
heart." And the Psalmist exclaims that he " has been for-
gotten out of heart like a dead man." 19
To make a strong or a permanent impression on the
memory is "to write it down on the heart," or on the
" tablet of the heart." Thus Jeremiah : " The sin of Judah
is written with a pen of iron ... it is graven upon the
tablet of their heart." In the " new covenant," the same
prophet tells us, the Law will be put in the people's inward
parts, and "written in their hearts." This is a favourite
expression with the author of the earlier chapters of Pro-
verbs, who enjoins the hearer to write down his wisdom on
" the tablet of his heart." The same idea is implied in the
expression "to blot out a memory," used by various
biblical writers : it means wiping off the writing f roin the
tablet of the heart. 20
It is interesting to note the resemblance of this figure of
the " tablet of the heart " to the famous simile by which
Plato describes the operation of memory the block of wax
in the mind on which impressions are stamped as if by a
seal ring, which differs in size and quality with different
people. His other simile, that of the aviary, by which he
Illustrates reminiscence as distinct from memory, is found
in a somewhat different form in the Talmud, where the
student is compared to a hunter who catches birds and
breaks their wings one by one so as to secure possession of
The Talmudic theory of psychology and there is not
much of it that can be described by this term follows
along traditional biblical lines. The heart is usually,
though not always, regarded as the seat of reason and in-
telligence and, apparently, also of memory. To Quintilian
memory was the important faculty on which all knowledge
depends and which requires constant cultivation. " What
is the only great art of memory? Exercise and labour/*
"To learn much by heart ... is the most efficacious of
all methods," for "nothing is so much strengthened by
practice, or weakened by neglect, as memory." The Jewish
teachers of those times treated the matter much in the
same way. The chief cure for all the student's difficulties
was " to keep on sitting " at his task. But to them memory
was more than a mere faculty. It was a mysterious power,
fickle and capricious in its likes and dislikes. It may be-
stow its favours on the student and so render Ms work
smooth and successful; but it may also withdraw them for
any trifling reason.
Good health was a prime condition for good memory.
This the Jewish teacher knew as well as Quintilian. 22 But
in addition there was a wide range of other things which
the former believed could affect memory, especially certain
articles of food. Thus eating the heart of an animal was
considered detrimental to memory. Memory, it will be
remembered, was located in the heart. Food of which a
cat or a mouse had eaten was also harmful. The worst of
all was to eat olives: it could ruin the result of seventy
years 7 study. But olive oil has just the reverse effect.
Bread baked on coals, or the coals themselves, or a soft
i2 4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
egg without salt were useful means of improving one's
powers of memory. These beliefs were derived from cur-
rent views on dietetics on which the Talmud "bestows much
attention. " An excellent digestion " is also mentioned by
Quintilian as a condition " greatly contributing to success-
ful memory work."
But there were other beliefs which to the modern mind
must appear as utterly meaningless. To pass between two
women, or between two camels, or to read an inscription
on a tomb, or to put one's clothes under one's head at
night these, among other things, were considered in some
way to have an adverse effect on memory. These supersti-
tions, to which others were added by later generations,
have survived almost down to modern times, 23
We will be in a better position to understand the con-
ditions which stimulated the growth of these strange
beliefs when we realise what astonishing feats of memory
were demanded and achieved in those times. Individual
cases of extraordinary powers of memory have been known
at all times. 24 But the history of education knows no
parallel to this collective feat of memory : a whole school
system carried on with such little help from the written
word. It is a staggering thought that the bulk of Talmudic
literature, with its almost incredible diversity and minute-
ness of detail, was for generations carried in the minds of
human beings, and then, from memory, reduced to writing.
It is even more amazing to find that people who had such a
task on their hands could set for themselves such severe
and exacting rules as the following, for example :
"R. Dosetai the son of Jannai said in the name of
R. Meir, 'Whoso forgets one word of his study, him the
Scripture regards as if he had forfeited his life/ " 25
To this spirit we owe the preservation not only of Tal-
mudic literature, but also very largely of the Hebrew Bible.
MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE
I. The method of study for the " Oral Law." The chief con-
cern was the acquisition of the subject-matter. The method
of higher education was also used for the Instruction of children.
An instructive Talmudic dispute. A comparison with the
methods of the classical Greek school. II. The Talmudic
method compared with that of Pestalozzi. Modern views on
the subject. The Talmudic method more justified for the
Bible than for other subjects of study. The determining factor
in the selection of material was not the present interest of the
child, but that of the adult community. III. Memorisation
was secured chiefly by means of repetition. The number of
repetitions. Plato, Aristotle and Quintilian on memory in
childhood. Modern opinion on this subject. The Talmudic
THE method of study for the "Oral Law" Is formulated by
a famous rabbi and educational reformer of the fourth
century In the following words : " One must first learn the
text and then enter into the reasoning of It." That is,
first commit the text to memory, and then analyse it and
enter into its deeper meanings and Implications. The
authoritative comment on this passage is important for the
understanding of the educational conditions of the period.
"One should learn from his teacher until he becomes
fluent in the text and Its plain meaning. After that he
should consider what he has learnt, comparing things to
one another, asking questions and answering them. But
at first he must not do that, because he will waste time, and
the teacher might not be always available. Again, after
he has learnt much, he will get a clearer idea of his work
and be himself able to smooth over difficulties." 1
126 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The chief concern was the acquisition of the subject-
matter, for which a student was dependent upon his
teacher. O a certain rabbi we read that at eighteen he
knew all the six volumes of the Mishnah and yet was
ignorant of a universally recognised rule. Which, the
Talmud says, proves that one must first memorise and
only then reason it out. In another place the same idea is
even more crudely expressed: "One must always go on
learning, even though he forgets, and even though he may
not understand what his teacher says." The leading
scholar of his time, Rav, we are told, had two pupils who
were dependent upon Mm only for the text, but had no
need for Ms explanations. 2
From an earlier period, it is true, we have the opinion
of a great scholar that a teacher must not content himself
with making only plain statements, but must show his
pupils the reasons for them. This agrees with another
statement elsewhere that "he who understands well his
subject will not forget it quickly." But this sound advice
was not apparently applied to the first steps of learning. 3
Turning now to elementary education, there is little
evidence bearing directly on this question. All the indica-
tions, however, point to the fact that the method of higher
education was used also in the instruction of children. We
read, for example, of an exceptionally bright boy who had
memorised a biblical passage but did not know a very
popular saying based on an obvious play of words. That
boy was " full of questions," but apparently had no means
of ventilating them at school.
Elsewhere we read of cMldren given the task to teach
one another the Bible, and even the Mishnah, which could
hardly mean anything more than the plain reading and
memorisation of the text. 4
Some light is thrown on the question under discussion
by the following instructive dispute. If we have to choose
MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE 127
between two elementary teachers, one of whom covers
more ground, but the other is more accurate in Ms work,
who is to be given preference? According to one opinion,
the former, because " errors will right themselves in time."
According to another opinion, the latter, because "errors
are Ineradicable." The latter view seems to have prevailed.
But the very possibility of such a discussion Is significant.
Quantity was all-important, sometimes even at the expense
of accuracy. 5
We may, then, conclude that the usual practice was to
teach the children first the traditional reading of the
biblical text and make them commit to memory certain
passages. This first step was particularly difficult on
account of the absence of a vowel system, and must
have therefore claimed most of the available time. The
next step was to give a translation, or rather a simple ex-
planation in the vernacular, of the general meaning of the
passages studied. This became increasingly necessary in
later times, when Hebrew was displaced by Aramaic, and
especially in the Babylonian and other communities out-
A comparison with the methods of the classical Greek
school will not be without interest at this point. There,
too, learning by heart was considered to be of the highest
educational value. "When the boys knew their letters
and were beginning to understand what was written, the
masters put beside them on the benches the works of good
poets for them to read, and made them learn them by
heart. They chose for this purpose books that contained
many moral precepts and narratives and praises of the
heroes of old, in order that the boy might admire them
and Imitate them and desire to become such a man him-
Large quantities of the IHad and the Odyssey were learnt
by heart. We read of a boy whom his father made to
128 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
learn all the lines of Homer, "wishing him to grow up
into a good man," and who was afterwards able to repeat
the whole of the Iliad and the Odyssey from memory.
"The attention of the boys was not simply concentrated
on the difficulties of the Homeric vocabulary. In fact
they were little troubled with such points," and were some-
times quite unable to translate some hard words. 7
The two school systems present striking similarities in
their methods. But the Jewish boy had the harder task;
he was sometimes made to memorise even the Mishnah,
which was a much more difficult proposition than Homer.
The training value of learning by heart is equally stressed
by both. Not that those ancient teachers were entirely
unaware of the danger of unassimilated learning, resulting
in the production of the *' educated fool." The Talmud
knew this type of scholar and designated him by a signi-
ficant name "An ass carrying books." But the great
emphasis on memorisation was due in no small degree to
the scarcity and expensiveness of books. Furthermore, it
should be remembered that with both, the Jews no less
than the Greeks, literary education was supplemented by
a richly elaborate system of practical training, thus pre-
serving a proper balance between learning and doing.
This method of making children commit to memory
imperfectly understood literary matter merits some further
consideration, if only for the reason that it persisted in the
Jewish school down to quite recent times and has not
entirely passed out of practice even at the present day.
It may strike the modern teacher as uneducational and
unintelligent. It might indeed well be called " cold-storage
learning." But before passing a final opinion we may do
well to bear in mind that it was a common method in quite
MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE 129
modem times and that something very similar to It was
practised by no less a teacher than Pestalozzi. Herbart,
in describing his visit to Pestalozzi's school, tells us how he
was made to doubt by the practices he had observed there.
The subjects of instruction were chosen with little regard
to the natural inclination of the children. They were
made to memorise Isolated names, disconnected sentences
and definitions, with a seeming carelessness whether all
this was understood by them. He brought his doubts to
Pestalozzi, who, in the course of his explanation, led him
to the Idea that what really matters is that the lesson
should be intrinsically comprehensible, rather than that
the child should understand at once what he is taught.
"Let the lesson give what is comprehensible and set to-
gether that which belongs together. Time and opportunity
will afterwards supply the concept and will correlate what
was set forth together/* 8
Stripped of its technical phraseology, which makes it
more palatable to the modem mind, there seems to be little
more in all this than the principle formulated sixteen
hundred years before by the Jewish teacher in his less
polished way : " One must always go on memorising even
if he does not understand what he is doing: mistakes will
right themselves in good time/'
Moreover, it should be remembered that the Jewish
elementary teacher of Talmudic times as well as his col-
league in ancient Greece was not concerned with isolated
sentences, definitions and similar material, but with literary
works of great charm and beauty the Bible in which
form was no less Important than content. The pupil would
be helped in his studies by context and rhythm, and, in
biblical poetry, by the peculiar structure o the verse with
its variety of parallelisms. Such literature would, to use
Professor Nunn's words, " grow in significance as the years
go by and become richer and richer in meaning/'
i 3 o THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Herbart's comment upon Pestalozzi's explanation is that
to a child a word, or a name, is not merely a symbol, but a
real thing. That is why he likes to play with the sound,
to pronounce the same words with all kinds of modifica-
tions. This view has been further developed by Professor
Nunn ? who sees in the child's love for routine action, for
repeating the familiar, a desire for effective self-assertion
a consideration which some modern teachers, in their
anxiety to avoid " mechanical " methods, are apt to over-
look. The same writer considers it, however, highly doubt-
ful whether this routine tendency may be legitimately ex-
ploited as a means of storing the child's mind with literary
passages which he cannot be expected to appreciate for
several years unless they have " some intelligible message
for him." 9
Now the Bible is seldom devoid of an " intelligible mes-
sage" even for young children, provided the teacher, in
selecting his material, does not lose sight of their present
capacities and inclinations. But whilst in practical training
the teachers of the Talmudic period showed a sympathetic
understanding of the child's nature which was probably
in advance of their time, it is very doubtful whether the
same could be said of their treatment of literary education.
The structure of the literary curriculum, as has been shown
elsewhere, was largely conditioned by the requirements of
the Synagogue. One result of this was to impress the child
with the worth-wholeness of his work; to give him the
feeling that he was engaged in an activity which formed
part of " real " life. But the other result was that the de-
termining factor in the selection of material was not the
present interests of the child, but those of the adult com-
munity into which he was being initiated.
Such an attitude in teachers of those early times is
hardly to be wondered at. The placing of the centre of
interest in the pupil, the chief burthen of Rousseau's
MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE 131
passionate preaching, took a long time before it received
general recognition even in theory. When we look back
on the history of education we may agree with Dewey that
this idea represented " a revolution, not unlike that intro-
duced by Copernicus when the astronomical centre was
shifted from the earth to the sun." For in this case, too,
" the child became the sun round which the appliances of
education revolve." 10 This "revolution" has scarcely yet
reached its end, but signs are already discernible of the
Memorisation was secured chiefly by means of repetition.
" Whoever learns the Torah but does not revise it, is like
one who sows but does not reap ?J11 he loses the benefit of
his labours. Various passages show us to what lengths this
could go in higher education.
From an early period we have a saying that " a teacher
should repeat his lesson to a pupil four times." As to the
pupil himself we are told that one scholar of the fourth
century used to revise his lesson twenty-four times before
going to his teacher. Another rabbi of the third century
was accustomed to go over his text forty times. These
numbers were not arrived at as a result of experimentation;
nor were they taken at random. Twenty-four corresponds
to the number of books in the Hebrew Bible, according to
the Jewish arrangement; forty is the number of days spent
by Moses on Mount Sinai. 12 It was apparently believed
that there was a particular efficacy in this latter number,
for we find many references to it. Thus, for instance, one
rabbi who asked for a certain name and was given it,
"repeated it forty times and felt as if he had it in his
pocket." Another number is given in the following say-
ing, which was popular down to modern times : " He who
repeats his lesson one hundred times cannot be compared
133 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
to Mm who repeats It one hundred and one times." Else-
where there Is an obviously exaggerated story of a teacher
who repeated a lesson to his pupil four hundred times! 13
Quintilian believed that "nothing is so much strength-
ened by practice, or weakened by neglect, as memory";
and that therefore " the only great art of memory is exer-
cise and labour/' There is no evidence to show that his
Jewish contemporaries regarded exercise as a means of
strengthening the powers of memory. They rather acted
on the simple idea that the more you repeat a thing the
longer you will remember it. They were aware of what
the moderns would call the necessity of carrying learning
" beyond the threshold of immediate reproduction," but it
did not occur to them that there is a saturation-point
beyond which repetition cannot be usefully continued
unless after an interval.
There is little doubt that the same methods were prac-
tised also in the elementary school. Teachers were aware
of the child's capacity for mechanical memorisation and
made full use of it. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that
earliest youth and the latest age are alike lacking in
strength of memory; and that " it is as difficult to impress
a durable mark on their organs as on running water." But
popular opinion never agreed with this view as far as
earliest youth is concerned. The popular view, which held
sway in the school down to modern times, is represented
by Quintilian, who maintained that "memory not only
exists in children, but is at that time of life even most
tenacious." Childhood is therefore the time when we should
acquire exactness, and when memory should by exercise
be brought to such a condition that we may never learn to
excuse its failures.
The question whether children memorise more rapidly
and successfully than adults is still debated by educa-
tionists. Because of his suppleness and his love of repeti-
MEMORY IN SCHOOL PRACTICE 133
tion, the child, as was already noted by Rousseau, Is un-
doubtedly at an advantage in " rote ** memorisation. On the
other hand, it is quite obvious that he cannot compete with
the adult whenever logical association is required. In the
Jewish school of Talmudic times teachers were mostly con-
cerned with the former kind of memorisation, and great
value was naturally attached to what was called the " learn-
ing in childhood." The position is well summed up in the
advice given to teachers by a leading scholar of those
times : " Do not admit a child under six; after that admit
him and cram him like an ox." 14
AIDS TO MEMORY
I. Methods of memorisation. Brevity. '* Multiple stimula-
tion." The " whole " and the " part " methods. The length
of the lesson in higher education ; in the elementary school.
"Tell me your verse." II. Aids to memory. Mnemonics
arbitrary and significant. Reading aloud. Silent reading
was discouraged. Modern views on silent reading. Quintilian's
view. Illustrations from rabbinical literature on reading
aloud. III. "Chanting 71 the Bible lesson. Biblical "ac-
cents." Cantillation. Different chants for the various books
of the Bible. Instrumental music was not taught in the
Jewish elementary school. The Greek practice. Superiority
of the Greek and Jewish methods over modern practice.
IV. Interest. Rav's rule. Illustration from Maimonides.
TEACHERS, as may be expected, gave much attention to
methods of memorisation. Here and there we find ideas
which, in form at least, sound quite modern, although it is
difficult to say to what extent these were carried into
Brevity in explanation was insisted on: "One must
always teach his pupils in the shortest way/' The reason,
of course, is that the pupil will have less to memorise. An
even more modern idea is expressed m the following com-
ment on the biblical verse, "That you may look upon it
and remember all the Commandments " (Num. xv. 39) :
" Seeing leads to remembering, and remembering leads to
doing." This is quite clearly a realisation of the advantage
of enlisting as many senses as possible " multiple stimula-
tion," as the modern psychologist would term it. Perhaps
there is also here a glimpse of the fact that there are
AIDS TO MEMORY 135
various types of memory- and that for some the visual
sense Is the more Important. Yet this, even if realised, was
seldom acted upon In the school. 1
Another question which seems to have occupied the
mind of the Talmudic teacher was, to use modem termin-
ology, the relative advantages of the " whole ?J and " part "
methods of memorisation. Modem experimental educa-
tion has given a good deal of attention to this question.
Which Is the more economical and efficient method: to
deal with a poem, or other similar unitary matter, as a
whole, repeating It again and again until mastery Is
attained, or to break it up In small parts and commit these
to memory one by one? One recent writer tells us that
wherever the material to be dealt with forms a unity, such
as a poem for example, experience has shown the former
method to be from ten to thirty per cent, more successful.* 2
The Talmudic teachers, apparently quite regardless of
the nature of the material, considered the " part " method
more effective at least In theory. The question was evi-
dently a " burning " one to judge from the numerous refer-
ences to It. The student Is compared to a hunter catching
birds : If he Is to secure them, he must break their wings
one by one. "He who makes up his learning In large
bundles will find that It will dwindle; but if he gathers it
up little by little it will Increase." " The foolish one says :
' Who can acquire the whole of the Torah?' but the clever
one, what does he say? * I shall learn two laws today and
two laws tomorrow until I have mastered the whole of
It.' " In practice, it seems, this was not always observed:
students know this rule, we are told, but disregard It.
Preference for the " part " method, It may be observed, was
not confined to Jewish teachers; it was apparently shared
also by Qulntilian. 3
* But see Collins and Drever : " Experimental Psychology,"
136 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
This refers to higher education that Is, to the "Oral
Law." We have some Idea of the extent of a lesson there.
It was either two or more "laws," or the smallest subdivisions
of a chapter of the Mishnah, as appears from the above texts;
or perhaps a whole chapter. The same term " perek "
stands In Talmudic Hebrew for "chapter" as well as
" lesson." It Is therefore suggested with some plausibility
that the actual lessons given by Judah the first, the com-
piler of the Mishnah, to his students were afterwards taken
by Mm as a basis for the subdivision of the tractates into
As to the elementary school, we have no definite evi-
dence on the question of the extent of the lesson. There
are numerous references in Talmudic literature to the
practice of stopping a boy and asking him for the verse he
had learned that day. This was a typical feature of the
Jewish education system and some illustrations of it will be
given later. But it obviously cannot mean that one new
verse was learned every day, for at this rate a boy would
never go through even the Pentateuch alone. The number
of verses in the " Five Books " is 5,845. In one place, 5 it is
given on the authority of the " West " that is, Palestine
as 5,848: eight less than in the Psalms, which were also
called the "Five Books," and eight more than in the
Chronicles. Now, even if a boy should learn a new verse
every day of the year, it would take him about fifteen years
to cover the Pentateuch. Besides, he would not be able to
keep pace with the reading in the Synagogue, where the
Five Books were completed annually or once In three
The lesson must have therefore consisted of a much
longer portion, the extent of which most probably had a
definite relation to the weekly reading in the Synagogue.
The children were only asked for any verse which re-
mained in their memory. Or perhaps one verse a day
AIDS TO MEMORY 137
was memorised, the rest of the passage being studied only
for correct reading and the plain meaning,
Various "aids" were employed in the endeavour to
secure speedy and reliable memorisation. In the study of
the "Oral Law" "mnemonics" figured prominently, especi-
ally in the later Talmudic period. These may be divided
into " significant," where the mnemonic sentence, or word,
expresses an idea with some bearing on the subject under
discussion; and " arbitrary " an artificial word or sentence
giving the initial or most characteristic letters of the first
words in a series of texts or arguments to be committed to
memory. Sometimes the two forms are combined in an in-
genious manner. A good example is Maimonides' well-
known mnemonic, which consists of two words, each of
three letters, giving the initial letters of the names of the
six " orders," or volumes, of the Mishnah. The two words
form a sentence with a relevant meaning, although of a
somewhat forced nature.* Examples of both forms abound
in the Talmud, They date mostly from a late period when
the Talmudic material had already reached a more or less
regular form. The objection to the writing down of the
"Oral Law" did not extend to these "shorthand" notes,
and students must have found them indispensable in their
efforts to retain in memory the orderly succession of the
arguments. This system of mnemonics, of which only a
part has been preserved, became even more valuable later
when the enormous task was undertaken of reducing the
vast mass of traditional literature to written form. 7
There can be no doubt that mnemonics were employed
also in the elementary school, although in a more restricted
* " ZMN NOT " (Zeman naqat), which may be interpreted :
" Time has preserved" the literary works of the past.
138 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
form. A well-known Talmudic text gives us a description
of an elaborate and highly Ingenious mnemonic method
of teaching the alphabet. It Is also suggested that the
Hebrew vowel system in Its nature a system of mnemonics
had Its origin in the mnemonic signs devised by the ele-
mentary schoolmaster as an " aid " to his pupils. 8
Another aid, to which the greatest importance was
attached, was reading aloud. " Silent reading " that Is,
reading for the sole purpose of getting at the thought
behind the words was unknown. It Is, of course, quite a
new method, and reflects the conditions of a period when
education has become universal, and people usually go
through large quantities of printed matter in search of
news or ideas paying little or no attention to the reading
process Itself. The present position Is well formulated In
the words of Montessori : " Reading, if it is to teach the
child to receive an idea, should be mental and not vocal."
And again: "Graphic language the greatest acquisition
of civilisation does not need spoken words. It can only
be understood in all its greatness when it is completely
isolated from spoken language.' 79 Modern teachers are
coming to recognise that oral reading, like writing, is
mainly a method of communicating thought to others,
whilst silent reading Is the method of receiving thought
But in the period we are concerned with reading did not
aim solely or even mainly at " receiving ideas.'* The first
consideration was the memorisation of literary matter
taught for the most part orally. And articulate reading
offered an extra mechanical association of the verbal-motor
action, of which teachers were only too glad to avail
The views held on this subject by ancient teachers are
well stated by Quintilian. ** To learn by heart in silence
would be best, if other thoughts did not intrude on* the
AIDS TO MEMORY 139
mind when it Is, so to say, at rest, for which reason it re-
quires to be stimulated by the voice, that the memory may
be excited by the double duty of speaking and hearing.
But the tone of voice ought to be low and rather a kind
of murmur." 7
This would be endorsed by Quintilian's Jewish con-
temporaries, with one modification : they would insist that
reading should not only be articulate, but in a loud voice.
To the modern mind this would seem a hindrance rather
than a help to the concentration of attention. In those
times, however, reliance was placed not so much on atten-
tion, or interest, as on the frequency of mechanical repeti-
"R. Ammi says: 'What is the meaning of the verse,
" For it is pleasant if thou keep them together with thee,
if they be established together upon thy lips "? When are
the words of the Torah pleasant? When you keep them
within you. And how can you keep them within you? If
they are established together upon your lips/ " Beruriah,
the wife of R. Heir, famous for her scholarship and clever-
ness, once found a student who was learning quietly. So
she rebuked him and said : " Is it not written, * Ordered in
all and kept *? If the Torah is ordered by the help of all
your two hundred and forty-eight limbs, it will be retained;
if not, it will not be retained." It will be observed that
reading aloud was not enough; the whole body had to be
brought into play.
Incidentally, this may throw some light on the practice,
still prevalent amongst the students of the Talmud, of
swaying to and fro during study. It apparently goes back
to a very early time and was originally one of the numerous
mechanical aids to memorisation. 10
" Samuel said to R. Judah, his pupil, * Bright one! Open
your mouth and read so that it may abide with you/ "
" R. Eliezer ben Jacob had a pupil who used to study in a
140 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
quiet voice. After three years he had forgotten all he had
learned." Maimonides, basing himself on these and similar
Talmudic passages, puts it down In so many words : " He
who learns aloud retains what he has learnt, but he who
learns quietly forgets quickly/' 11
There is no doubt at all that the elementary school also
used this method of reading aloud. We have references
to the " piping voices of children " heard by people outside.
We also know that people used to raise objections to the
elementary teacher who wished to settle in their neigh-
bourhood, most probably on account of the noise caused
by the manner of study. And it should be noted that in
early times such objections were sustained by the law,
although later this law was explained away. 12
It is interesting to compare the old Jewish method of
reading aloud with the following from a well-known modern
teacher of classics. " Only by reading aloud, and in no other
manner whatever, can the student receive the author's
meaning as he wished it to be received, in his order, with
his emphasis, in the mood he wished to call up. Many a
point I had missed in reading alone has come out clearly
when I heard it read aloud." 13 This, of course, refers to
expressive reading of classical poetry, or even prose, where
the artistic form is of importance. But the Bible, and also
the Mishnah, In the schools of Talmudic times, were not
only read with expression; the pupils were actually made
to sing, or at any rate to chant, their lessons. Singing, it
has been well said, is in its essence a form of beautiful
speaking. Biblical poetry and even prose with its
strongly marked rhythmic structure, with its characteristic
parallelisms, lends itself peculiarly well to musical speak-
ing, if not to formal singing. In some passages antiphonal
AIDS TO MEMORY 141
chanting seems to be demanded by the literary form.
Many psalms belong to this category, with the " Hallel " 14
as an outstanding example. Another example Is the
" Song of Moses," with its vivid rhythms, changing accord-
ing to mood, which is sometimes chanted antiphonally by
the reader and the congregation In the Synagogue of the
The biblical system of "accents" (the graphic symbols
indicating the tunes) Is of post-Talmudic origin. It was
very probably reduced to writing at about the same period
as the vowel system. But cantillation had been In use long
before that time. From one Talmudic passage it may be
inferred that there was in use a system of manual signs to
Indicate the rise and fall of the voice, and that the right
hand was employed for that purpose. We are told on
reliable authority that this system of manual signs was
used by Palestinian Synagogue " readers" as late as the
eleventh century. 15
It is plausibly suggested that, after being transmitted
orally for ages, individual teachers began to introduce
graphic symbols into their private scrolls as an aid to their
pupils' memory, and this gradually developed into the
various systems of accentuation. What was afterwards
known as cantillation probably had its origin in free
expressive reading for the purpose of bringing out more
clearly the meaning of the text. Tradition claims to find
a reference to it in the record of the first public reading
of the Torah in 444 B.C.E. As a result of liturgical practice
the tunes gradually became fixed and he who changed
them was said "to bring evil into the world. 16 But the
pedagogical value of cantillation was no less important
than the liturgical, and so Its use was extended to books
outside the Bible, such as Ben Slra, and even to the
Mlshnah. A famous Palestinian scholar of the third cen-
tury C.E. tells us that "he who reads the Bible without a
142 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
tune, or the Mishnah without a chant, of him did Scripture
say, 'And I also have given them statutes that were not
good ' s> (Ezekiel xx. 25). But this was a gradual process
and did not become a universal practice until the school
had achieved its full development.
It should be pointed out that bringing out the meaning
of the text was not the sole purpose of cantillation, as
some writers insist. 17 The chant was a valuable mechani-
cal aid which greatly facilitated the fixing in the memory
of the text itself. This will go a long way towards explain-
ing the frequent irregularities of accentuation when mean-
ing is apparently sacrificed to purely musical requirements.
But these in their turn were subordinate to the need of
enabling memory to carry quantities of literary matter
with but scanty help from the written word, or even en-
tirely without such help. 18
Chanting continued to be used in the elementary school
for many centuries after the Talmudic period. The chil-
dren sang their Bible and succeeded in catching something
of its spirit, although they often understood but little of
its ideas. The chants differed for the various parts of the
Bible, and sought to express in some way the fervour and
passion of Isaiah, the resignation and despair of a book
like Lamentations, as well as the sunny glow pervading
the Song of Songs. And the children responded well to
the various moods.
The Jewish elementary school did not teach instru-
mental music except for the "blowing of the horn,"
which children were perhaps taught in the earlier period. 19
But even with this omission there is a rather striking
similarity between the practice described in the preceding
pages and that of the Greek classical school.
This is how Plato describes the Greek practice : " Then,
again, the teachers of the lyre take similar care that their
disciple is temperate and gets into no mischief; and when
AIDS TO MEMORY 143
they have taught him the use of the lyre, they introduce
him to the poems of other excellent poets, who are the
lyric poets; and these they set to music, and make their
harmonies and rhythm quite familiar to the children's
souls, in order that they may learn to be more gentle,
and harmonious, and rhythmical, and so more fitted for
speech and action; for the life of man in every part
has need of harmony and rhythm/' 20 Music with the
Greeks was closely connected with literature. " Instead of
being a distinct art ... it was always subsidiary to the
expression of the spirit of their literature." Poetry and
music together formed a single art. 21 It may be suggested
that although the purely artistic value of music was so
much stressed in the Greek school, its function as an aid
to memory was not overlooked.
Both the Greek and the Jewish school of Talmudic times
paid more attention to expression and Intonation "the
vehicles in which . , . meaning, feeling, and emotion are
conveyed/' " the very life-blood of language " 22 than
many a modern school. W. H. D. Rouse relates how a
visitor to his class once exclaimed : " This Is the first time
I have heard Latin read in anger!" In the teaching of
classics and even of modern languages grammar until
recently ruled supreme. Vocabularies, paradigms, endless
grammatical rigmaroles constituted the universally recog-
nised method. Expressive reading was a lost art. This is
largely true also of the Hebrew school of recent ages, which
was pervaded by a dry linguism, although of a some-
what different kind, as It did not pay much attention to
formal grammar. In most modern times, the change over
from the logical to the psychological point of view in
educational practice, and the emergence of such move-
ments as the " Direct method/* have done much to restore
expression and intonation to their proper place and to
bring back the " voice of song ** Into language teaching.
i 4 4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
But in this respect at all events the ultra-modern methods
largely mean a return to the practice which was common
in the classical Greek school as well as in the Jewish school
of Talmudic times.
A few words may be said on the place of interest in the
methods of the Talmudic elementary school. There is
sufficient evidence to show that teachers generally recog-
nised the desirability of arousing the pupil's interest in his
work. The views expressed on this subject sometimes
sound quite modern. The second verse of the first Psalm,
" But he delights in the law of the Lord/' is commented
upon thus : " One learns (successfully) only that which his
heart desires." Compare this with the following from a
modern writer : " Material will not be learned by heart, at
least not easily, unless there is a felt need for its memoris-
ing/* 23 Yet, except in the case of practical religious educa-
tion, it was rather an interest of an external and artificial
character that was sought after. We read, for example, in
one place that the wrappers of the scrolls of the Law were
provided with bells. The purpose of these, according to
an authoritative commentator, was to attract the attention
of the children so that they might come to the Synagogue
for their lesson. 24 This may be taken as typical of their
method as a whole, which in the main relied for its success
upon external means, such as rewards and punishments.
There is a saying by Rav, the well-known scholar and
educational reformer of the third century C.E., which
affords us an insight into their attitude to the question of
spontaneous interest and its place in the learning process.
" One must always be engaged in the study of the Torah
and in the performance of the Commandments, even if
it is not for their own sake, for this will lead to an interest
in them for their own sake/' 25 This was evidently their
AIDS TO MEMORY 145
established method with children. At first external means
were used, such as rewards and punishments, to carry the
children over the earlier, less interesting, stages of their
work. In this way it was hoped gradually to arouse an in-
terest in the study for its own sake later on, when it will
acquire meaning for them.
Maimonides, in the celebrated passage in which he
formulates the Creeds, gives the following description of
this method : " Imagine a little boy who was brought to
the teacher to be taught the Torah. Now, this is the
greatest good for him on account of the perfection which
he will reach by it; but because of his youth and the
immaturity of his reason he does not understand the value
of that good. . . . The teacher, who is more perfect than
he, will therefore be obliged to induce him to study by
things which in his immaturity he likes. He will say to
him: *Read, and I will give you nuts, or figs, or honey/
And so he will try and read not for the sake of the read-
ing, whose value he does not know, but that he may be
given those dainties. And the eating of those dainties is
dearer and undoubtedly much better in his view than the
reading. He will, therefore, consider study to be a toil and
a fatigue; but he will go on with it so that as a result of
this toil he may reach his beloved end a nut, or some
honey." 26 This description of method is all the more
valuable since it is indirect; the writer does not deal with
education, but uses it only as an illustration. It should,
however, be pointed out that his list of " inducements ** is
not complete: punishments played a not less important
part than rewards.
THE TEACHING OF READING
I. Monroe on the teaching of reading in the Greek school.
The peculiar difficulties of Hebrew. Illustration from the
Talmud. II. The teaching of the alphabet. The alphabet
as material for moral and religious instruction. III. The
next step after the alphabet. Three methods of teaching read-
ing the alphabetic, the synthetic and the analytic. Neither
of these was available to the Jewish teacher of Talmudic
times. Dr. Kennedy's view on the teaching of reading in the
early Jewish elementary school. Criticism. The only method
possible in the circumstances. IV. The suitability of some
form of this method for the modern Hebrew school. V. The
possible contribution of the Talmudic elementary school to
the development of the Hebrew vowel system. Pinsker and
Weiss on this subject. Illustration from the Midrash.
DR. PAUL MONROE says the following of the teaching of
reading in the schools of classical Greece.
". . .In reading there was much more educational
value than with us, because of the important training in
power of discrimination or in judgment in the use of
accent; and, similarly, since the words were written con-
tinuously without a break, in the separation of one word
from another. Likewise there was no punctuation, so that
it was necessary that the child should get the idea in order
that the reading might even be intelligible." 1
Whether there is any particular educational value, or
training in power, in such a study is doubtful. It looks
rather like making a virtue out of necessity. It may be
mentioned in this connection that similar claims have been
put forward at one time or another for almost any subject
THE TEACHING OF READING 147
whose utility was questioned. Teachers of classics in par-
ticular, instead of emphasising the general cultural value
of their subject, often fall back on this plea of " mental
discipline," and thus expose themselves unnecessarily to
the attacks of the psychologist who questions their assump-
tion of the transfer of the effects of training from one sub-
ject to another
At any rate, if the reading of Greek was difficult, the
reading of Hebrew in Talmudic times was infinitely more
so. The texts consisted practically only of consonants and
the vowels had to be supplied mentally by the reader. O
course, the child would be helped by meaning, context and
the peculiar rhythmic structure of the biblical verse with its
various forms of parallelism. And yet an enormous weight
was thrown upon memory. Even with a book in front
of him, half his reading would consist of memory work.
A good illustration of the difficulties of the teaching of
reading will be found in the legend about David and Joab.
A word consisting of three consonants " 137 " could be
read to mean either " the remembrance," or " the males. 5 *
According to the legend the latter reading was given, to
Joab by his teacher, and this determined his action in the
war with Edom. 2
The children were naturally taught first of all the alpha-
bet the names of the letters, their forms, their sounds, and
perhaps also their numerical value, seeing that letters were
so often used as numbers. The order of the letters was
varied in several ways: at first the regular order; then the
first and the last, the second and the second last, and so on.
It is not quite dear whether tMs was merely a matter of
method or whether the children were also given the form of
the alphabet caHed " Atbash," in which the letters change
places as well as powers. Traces of this form are found
i 4 8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
already in the Bible. 3 It is not, however, easy to see what
use the children could be expected to make of it.
Children have always found the alphabet a difficult sub-
ject, and teachers throughout the ages have exercised their
brains in the invention of pedagogical devices to make it
more attractive. Few children were in the position of
that Greek boy for whom his father bought twenty-four
slaves, giving to each the name of a letter in the alphabet.
A more economical idea was " the ginger-bread method "
of a later century. The letters were made of ginger-bread,
the child eating those which he could name. Basedow, an
enthusiast of this method, urged that every school should
have a special school baker. He considered that, in order
to learn it, it would not be necessary for any child to eat
the alphabet more than three weeks.
It is perhaps not without significance that in artistic
Hellas the alphabet was put into verse. This formed a
prologue to a kind of spelling drama, or comedy, which
was set to music. 4 On the other hand, among the more
religiously minded Jews of the Talmudic period the
alphabet was sometimes used as material for moral and re-
ligious instruction. How this was done will be seen from
the following passage, which is given here in extenso on
account of its historical as well as pedagogical value. 5
" The sages said to R. Joshua ben Levi : * The children
came today to the house of study (" beth-midrash ") and
said things the like of which had not been said even in the
days of Joshua, the son of Nun :
" Aleph, Beth " (3, K) = " learn understanding/' 6
(" Aleph binah " in Hebrew. The actual Hebrew words
are given wherever relevant.)
"Girnd, Daleth" (1, J)="deal kindly with the poor."
" Why is the foot of the Gimel stretched forth towards
THE TEACHING OF READING 149
" Because It is the way of the charitable man to run after
"And why is the foot of the Daleth stretched forth
towards the Gimel?"
" That he (the poor) should let himself be found " (by
the charitable man without giving him too much trouble).
" And why is the face of the Daleth turned away from
" Because he is to help him privately so as not to cause
"He, Waw " (I H)=" this is the name of the Holy One,
blessed be He." 7
"Zayin,Heth ? Teth,Yod,Kaph,Lamed n (^ D, S D> H. ?)=
"if you behave like this, 8 the Holy One, blessed be He,
will feed (*Zan J ) you; and be gracious ('ban*) to you;
and deal well with you (* metiv *); and give you a heritage
(* yerushah '); and adorn you with a crown (* kether *) in the
world to come (* leolam haba ')"
" The open Mem and the closed Mem " (D, 23)=" a saying
(* ma'amar J ) which may be revealed, and a saying which is
to remain concealed." 9
" The bent Nun and the straight Nun " (| 3)=" the pious
man (* ne'eman 7 ) is bowed in this world but erect in the
world to come,"
"Samekh, 'Ayin" (,D)=" support the poor ('semokh
aniyim 9 )." 10
"The bent Pe and the straight Pe" (5j. S)="thc open
mouth (* peh ') and the shut mouth " (when necessary).
"The bent Sade and the straight Sade" (|M)="the
righteous man ('saddik*) is bowed in this world, but will
be upright in the world to come/*
" Qof " (p)=" the Holy One f Qadosh y ;
" Res " (n)=" the wicked f rasha *)**
"Why is the face of the Qof turned away from the
150 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
" The Holy One, blessed be He, says : * I cannot look at
the wicked.' "
"And why Is the crown of the Qof turned towards the
" The Holy One says : * If he repent, I shall adorn him
with 3. crown like mine/ "
"And why is the foot of the Qof suspended?" 12
" So that if the wicked repent, he may enter " (unto the
" in " (B0=" falsehood (' sheker )."
" Taw " (H) = " truth (' emeth ')"
" Why are the letters of the word denoting * falsehood *
near one another, and those denoting * truth ' far from one
"Because falsehood is common (near), whereas truth is
uncommon " (far to seek).
"And why does 'falsehood' stand on one leg, whilst
* truth ' is broadbased, as if on bricks?" 14
" Because truth will abide, falsehood will not." * "
An examination of this illuminating passage will show
that the lesson (assuming it to represent an actual lesson,
or series of lessons) had a threefold objective: the shapes
of the letters; their sounds; and, particularly, their names.
Some of the mnemonic words are almost identical in their
pronunciation with the names of the letters for which they
are made to stand; 15 some begin with the respective letters
they represent, and are thus helpful in recalling the sound;
others, again, have the peculiarities of their shapes skilfully
brought out through the medium of the moral sayings for
which they serve as symbols. It may be said that this
method of teaching the alphabet is in many respects
superior to the contrivances used for the same purpose by
some modem teachers.
It is necessary, however, to point out that this must not
be taken (as is done by some writers) to have been the usual
THE TEACHING OF READING 151
method of teaching the alphabet." It is not Impossible
that it represents a homily, delivered in the Synagogue to an
adult audience. The alphabet has always been a favourite
subject with the preacher as well as with the mystic But
even if used in a school, it was by no means a common
method. In the first place, it implies Hebrew as the
vernacular of the children, which was not the case in
Babylonia, nor even in Palestine in the later Taknudic
period. Besides, the introductioii "The children said
things which had never been said before'* shows quite
clearly that it was the work of a particular teacher or
preacher with an inventive turn of mind, It was not
known before Mm; nor, as far as the evidence goes, was it
commonly used after him. 17
But the alphabet was only the first step. What was the
next? We know what it was in Greece* for instance. This
is how it is described. " First we learn the names of the
letters . . . then their several forms and values, then syllables
and their modifications, and finally nouns and verbs and
connecting particles, and the changes they undergo. Then
we begin to read and to write, at first syllable by syllable,
very slowly, and then more rapidly, as we acquire some
This is in the main the time-honoured alphabetic method
of teaching reading. It was current in the world's schools
from the days of classical Greece down to almost our own
times. Practically all teachers are now agreed that it was
a method which never taught anybody to read: the chil-
dren, as one writer aptly puts it, " learning in spite of it/* 19
In the latter half of the nineteenth century It began to be
displaced by the phonic, or phonetic, method. This was
by no means a new discovery* It originated in the sixteenth
century, and both Rousseau and Pestalozzi, not to mention
152 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
others, were among its elaborators. But it found wide
recognition only in recent times. It is a synthetic method,
and the procedure is still from the part to the whole.
Instead of the names, the sound values of the letters are
given; these are combined into syllables; then into words,
connected phrases, and so on.
At about the same time, there came into use the analytic
method, which follows the principle of going from the
whole to the part, and lays particular stress on the thought-
element in reading. What that whole is to be there is con-
siderable divergence of opinion. Some take the word as
the unit; others begin with the phrase; still others with
the sentence, or even the connected passage. Only after
the children have acquired a sufficiently large vocabulary,
which they can recognise and read at sight, is the work of
analysis begun: the words are broken up into their com-
ponent phonograms, and these are used for the formation
of new words. 20
We shall now be able to see our problem more clearly.
The Jewish teacher of Talmudic times could use none of
the methods described here. The Hebrew he taught had
no established vowel system. It was therefore equally im-
possible for him to go either from the part to the whole or
from the whole to the part. In fact, no known method
would do for his case.
A. R. S. Kennedy, perhaps the only writer who touches
upon this question, suggests that after the alphabet ** the
teacher copied a verse which the child had already mastered
by heart, and taught him to identify the individual
It is necessary to point out at once, before entering Into
pedagogical considerations, that there is no evidence at
any rate, as far as the writer is aware supporting this
suggestion. Such a method is nowhere mentioned, and for
very good reasons, as will be seen presently. As to the
THE TEACHING OF READING 153
implication that children were made to memorise verses
presumably biblical before they read them in the book,
this is contrary to all that is known of the practice of the
school The elementary teacher is called ss he who makes
the children read/ 1 in contrast with the teacher of the
Mishnah, who is called " he who teaches off by heart." 22
The common practice seems to have been for the children
first to read in their books, and then to memorise at least
one verse a day. To this there were apparently two excep-
tions : Deuteronomy vi. 4 and xxxiii. 4. These verses the
child was taught as soon as he began to speak, but by the
father at home a custom which has survived to the present
But quite apart from this, the method suggested by Dr.
Kennedy would be impracticable for religious reasons.
There was no other material from which the verses could
be taken except the Bible. The liturgy was not to be
reduced to writing, and the prohibition applied also to the
" Oral Law." But the writing of biblical verses and a great
many would be required if any results were to be accom-
plished was surrounded with so many restrictions that
the teacher would find it of no practical use. 24
Nor was the reading of individual words, from a religious
point of view, such a simple matter as it appears on the
surface. In the Synagogue it was considered doubtful
whether one reader might stop in the middle of a verse
and another continue from that place. A significant con-
cession was made in this respect for children. R. Hanina
Qara says: "I had much trouble with R. Hanina the
Great, but he did not permit stopping in the middle of a
verse, except for children, since they do it for practice. 112 *
This concession, it will be observed, only went as far as
stopping in the middle of the verse: there could be no
question of resolving it into single words.
But even if aE the religious objections were disregarded,
i 5 4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
this method must be rejected on pedagogical grounds.
Nothing of any value could be achieved by it. It would be,
in fact, not a solution but an aggravation of the difficulty.
The word cannot be successfully used as a reading unit
unless as in the analytic method after being taught as a
whole it is resolved into its component sounds or phono-
grams* But in Hebrew this analysis could not be done
because of the lack of vowel signs. To break up a Hebrew
word would not mean to take it to pieces, which could
then be recombined in a different way, but simply to destroy
its value as reading material. The word therefore had to
be taken as a whole. But the same group of consonants
which the boy would be taught to read as a certain word
in one verse would be read in a totally different manner in
One illustration will suffice. The three consonants, *1 1 *T>
may be read in eight or nine different ways, according to
the vowels with which they are combined. 26 This is true,
although not always in the same degree, of almost any
other three compatible consonants; and of course to a
much smaller extent also of groups of two letters. From
the point of view of the mechanics of reading, words such
as these are like blank cheques. What is to be written on
them can be determined only from a meaningful context.
Separated from it, their whole value is lost.
Now, what could a teacher do with such material?
There can be little doubt as to what method he would use.
He would not attempt the impossible : teaching single words.
More than that : reading as a subject for itself, independent
of a particular text, did not exist for him at all; there was
no means of teaching it. In fact, it is nowhere mentioned.
Reading in those times always meant the reading of a
special book the only book available, the Bible. 27 Writers
who speak of " reading " as a separate subject some even
speak of " reading, writing, and arithmetic " (the three R's)
THE TEACHING OF READING 155
are projecting the conditions of their own time into the
school of the Talmudk period. Reading did not emerge
as a separate subject until the vowel system was evolved,
that is, some centuries after the period with which this
chapter Is concerned*
In the schools of Talmudic times the children were first
taught the alphabet, after which they were taken straight
to the Bible, where they were trained to read a verse as a
whole. The longer verses were sometimes divided Into two
parts. The manner of reading had to be memorised , but
In this the children were greatly helped by meaning and
context. Of all the known methods this comes nearest to
that form of the analytic which teaches the child to recog-
nise at sight a sentence as a whole, and stresses the im-
portance of context and thought element, It was thus to
some extent an anticipation of one of the most modem
methods of the teaching of reading, but, It should be
remembered, from necessity and not from choice. Also It
was an? analytic method minus the analysis; that could not
be done In the absence of vowel signs.
Intensive practice and constant revision were essential
with such a method, and It was always necessary to be on
guard against the tricks of memory. The following incident
Is instructive in this respect. A great scholar, who had
given up study for a time, came to a certain Synagogue and
was called up to read a portion of the Law. The passage
happened to be Exodus xli, In which the second verse
begins with the words : " This month shall be unto you."
But he was out of practice, and the words were misread by
him to mean : " Is their heart dea?" 2S
It may be noted here that the analytic method, in some
form or another, would be more suited to the peculiarities
of the Hebrew language than the phonic method which is
156 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
at present in general use in the Jewish elementary school. It
is computed that the thirteen English vowels have between
them one hundred and four sounds, and that fourteen per
cent, of English words are unphonetic. 29 Hebrew cannot
boast of quite such a record, and yet it is, in its own way,
as unphonetic as English. Instead of the same letter
changing its sound under the influence of the context, two,
or even three, letters may have the same sound. This
peculiarity of Hebrew gave trouble already in Talmudic
times. 30 In the present state of Hebrew phonetics there are
thirteen letters each of which shares its function with some
other one. 31 This naturally leads to trouble in the teaching
of reading, and, particularly, spelling.
Another peculiarity is that the vowels are not, as in other
languages, found in the same line with the consonants, but
more usually beneath them. This necessitates, especially
in the initial stages, two different eye movements, vertical
and horizontal, and obstructs the acquisition of that smooth
movement of the eye along the line which is the chief con-
dition for good reading. There are also other difficulties
which cannot be discussed here. 32 A radical solution for
all these problems would be the adoption of some form of
the analytic method which would train the child to the
recognition at sight of the sentence, or at least the word, as
a whole, the analysis to follow after. This method would
be especially suitable for Palestine where Hebrew is the
There is one other matter which may be noticed in con-
nection with the subject of this chapter. The evolution of
the Hebrew vowel system, or rather systems, was a long
and slow process which was not completed until about the
eighth century C.E. It is a work of great complexity in
which many people in different places collaborated. To
THE TEACHING OF READING 157
the patient labours of these people we largely owe the
preservation of the Bible.
Now the question naturally arises: What part did the
school play in this effort?
The suggestion was made long ago by S. Pinsker, and
supported afterwards by I. H. Weiss and others, that the
elaborate vowel system which we have in our possession
took its rise in the elementary school. 33 It is a plausible
idea which well deserves consideration. The absence of
vowels affected the teacher's work more seriously than that
of any other person. For he, it should be remembered,
was expected to teach little children such difficult books as
the Pentateuch or the Psalms. For a modem English
teacher to realise what that meant he would have to
imagine himself obliged to teach children of six or seven
such a book as Chaucer, for instance, out of a text consisting
practically of consonants alone. Such a teacher would be
an extraordinarily dull person if he did not contrive some
means to remedy a defect which made his position almost
There is a Midrashic passage which affords us a glimpse
of the difficulties which the children usually experienced.
The functions of the four vowel letters ( H> I *) were not
quite fixed, nor was their use uniform. Nevertheless the
children would come to associate these letters with the
particular sounds for which they stood most frequently.
Thus, for instance, the sound ** o " would become associated
with the " Waw " and the sound " e " with the " Tod." In
the absence of these letters their corresponding sounds would
not readily occur to the mind, but rather some different
sounds not usually associated with them. So the Midrash
tells us the children would read * f Masfoeh " for " Mosheh "
(Moses), " Aharan " for " Aharon " (Aaron), and " Ephran "
for "Ephron," because in all these words the vowel letter
is missing. 84 Now the teacher* to help them
158 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
along, would Introduce, In his private scroll, a small
" Waw " into these words to indicate the missing letter.
This small letter would gradually be contracted into a
symbolic dot the defective " o." Similarly a missing
" Yod " would be indicated by a small letter, later on con-
tracted to a dot, and placed beneath the consonant the
defective, or short " e." From these beginnings, consisting
originally of a small letter, a dot, or a stroke here and there,
there gradually developed that imposing and complicated
system which stands as a monument to the industry and
ingenuity of the ancient Hebrew grammarians. If there is
any foundation for this idea, the elementary teacher of Tal-
inudic times would deserve well of all those who value the
Bible for religious, historic, or literary reasons.
I. Translation as a method of language instruction origin-
ated In the early Jewish school. The Jewish method of trans-
lation of the present day has behind it a tradition of twenty-
five hundred years. II. The method of translation in the
early school was similar to that of the Synagogue. Transla-
tion in the Synagogue was not a complete rendering, but rather
an explanation. Reasons for this practice. The translation
was recited from memory and not from a written text. Reasons
for this. The unit for translation was one or more whole
verses. The method compared with modern practice. III.
The deterioration of the method of translation in post-Talmudic
ages. Modern controversies about methods of language teach-
ing. The objections to translation are less applicable to the
ancient Jewish than to the more modern forms of the method.
THE complex historical problems of the origin and develop-
ment of the various translations of the Bible are outside
the scope of this work. There is a considerable literature
on the subject to which the interested reader may be re-
ferred. 1 Here we are concerned only with the educational
aspect of the question, which has so far received little, if
The subject cannot fail to prove of some interest to the
student of the history of educational method and, particu-
larly, to the language teacher. For translation as a method
of instruction originated in the Jewish school, as a result
of peculiar historical conditions, some centuries before the
current era. In those early days It was used for the In-
struction of adults in connection with the Synagogue service
in which the Scripture lesson formed the central part. The
160 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
elementary school, which came into being later, had found
this method already well established and adapted it to its
own requirements. The method of translation, which is
still employed in most Jewish schools outside Palestine at
the present day, has therefore a tradition of some twenty-
five centuries behind it. During this long period the Jewish
people has spread into almost every corner of the globe,
and has as a result changed its vernacular again and again.
But the method stood the test of time, displaying some-
thing of the adaptability characteristic of the people
amongst whom it arose. At the present day Hebrew is
translated by the Jewish teacher into every European and
many non-European languages. Here and there the
" Direct method " has been introduced, as in the non-Jewish
school; but nowhere, outside Palestine, has it succeeded in
completely dislodging translation from its recognised posi-
tion as the chief means of instruction in the Hebrew class.
There can be no doubt at all that the pupils of the
Jewish elementary school in Talmudic times, both in Baby-
lonia as well as Palestine, were given an Aramaic translation
of their lessons from the Bible. Similarly, in the communi-
ties where Greek was the spoken language among the Jews,
such as Egypt, these lessons were translated into Greek. It
may indeed be suggested that the Septuagint, like the
Aramaic translations, was intended to meet the require-
ments of the school no less than those of the Synagogue.
Our sources supply us with no direct information on this
subject. We know, however, from the Mishnah that
minors that is, children under thirteen used to read and
translate the lesson from the Scripture in the Synagogue,
and that they were prepared for this by their teachers. 2
This, together with the fact, established in an earlier part
of this work s that the service of the Synagogue formed the
central feature of the curriculum of the school, entitles us
to the assumption that the same method, except perhaps
for minor differences, was followed in both institutions.
What was the nature o that method, its essential char-
acteristics? What was it intended to achieve, and how did
it work in practice? Finally, how does it compare with
modem methods of language teaching?
To be able to answer these questions satisfactorily we
have to bear in mind the following considerations. The
lesson from Scripture in the early Synagogue had a defin-
itely practical aim: to give the people guidance in re-
ligious, especially in ceremonial, matters. Education as a
permanent institution with no direct relation to Immediate
needs did not arise until much later. And it took many
centuries before Jewish teachers reached the idea of " study
for its own sake " a peculiarly Jewish idea which domin-
ated the school down to the end of the eighteenth century. 3
The earliest reference to such a Scripture lesson read in
public is found in the well-known passage in Nehemiah.
chapter viii. There we are told that as the result of such a
reading the people made booths and dwelt in them, in
celebration of the festival of Tabernacles something which
"they had not done since the days of Joshua the son of
Nun/' With such an end in view it was ideal content that
mattered rather than verbal form. The reader's, or the
teacher's, concern was to extract the thought from a given
passage; he was content to leave the words to take care of
Another important influence which tended in the same
direction arose from the fact that when the synagogue
readings were instituted Hebrew was stiU the language
commonly spoken among the people. There had, how-
ever, already begun that transitional stage during which
in the learned circles the classical Hebrew of the Scrip-
162 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
tures developed into the Neo-Hebrew of the Mishnah;
whilst among the people in general Aramaic was gradually
establishing itself as the vernacular. Many of the biblical
passages which had a practical bearing on questions of
ritual and ceremonial were no longer understood in their
original form by the mass of the people. They had become
archaic, or had acquired a different meaning as a result of
the development of tradition. The teacher's task was there-
fore not to translate (which, in the circumstances, would
have been of little use), but rather to paraphrase and ex-
plain the difficult phrases and expressions and, in general,
to supply a running commentary to the passages in
question. It was in the nature of a literature lesson as given
in the modern school. So we find that the earliest name of
the professional teacher, as distinct from the priest to
whom people came for occasional advice, was "one who
explains," or "one who causes to understand." 4 A good
illustration of this method of teaching we find in the
chapter of Nehemiah referred to above. Verse eight,
which some commentators consider obscure, may be trans-
lated as follows : " And they read in the book, in the Torah
of God, explaining it and giving the meaning, and they
made (the people) understand the reading/' 5 This is as
good a description as can be given of the then current
In its earliest form, therefore, the translation of the
Scripture lesson in the Synagogue was not a complete
rendering into any other language, but rather an explana-
tion of difficult phrases or expressions. But in the mean-
time the Synagogue service was becoming stereotyped,
while, on the other hand, Aramaic supplanted Hebrew as
the people's vernacular. As a result the earlier explanation
developed either into a literal translation or into a free and
loose exposition. Authoritative opinion refused to sanction
either of these extremes and insisted on the original
method. Thus a well-known teacher of the second century
gives it as Ms view that " he who translates a verse literally
is a liar; and he who adds to it is a blasphemer. 196 The
desirable method is neither what the modem teacher would
call a mechanical " transverbalsation * y nor yet a fanciful
exposition, but a rendering according to the sense.
Another feature worthy of notice is that the translation
in the Synagogue had to be recited from memory and not
from a written text. The reason usually given is that a
proper distinction should be preserved between the original
of the Bible and the Aramaic version. But another reason
may be suggested: to prevent the translation becoming
fixed and frozen, as it were, and so ceasing to be an ex-
planation as originally intended. It is for the same reason
that the modern school puts a ban on so<alled "cribs."
The unit of translation in the Synagogue was one whole
verse for the Pentateuch; but two or three verses from the
Prophets might be taken at once. 7 This is a rather more
important matter than appears on the surface. Although
it cannot be said that in determining the unit of transla-
tion pedagogical considerations alone were taken into
account, 8 yet this method is in agreement with modern
scientific opinion. Most language teachers now accept the
view that the isolated word is neither a unit of speech nor
a unit of thought, but merely a lexicographical unit which
may have its legitimate place in the dictionary. Some, like
Gentile, for instance, would leave no room for it even
there. It receives its meaning and particular colouring
from its place in a connected context the sentence. But
the sentence is not just the sum total of its constituent
words. There is something more: the relation and con-
nection of these words, their order and arrangement. But
it is this " something more/' which expresses what is usually
called the " genius of the language," that is likely to escape
the learner, unless a passage, or at least the sentence, be taken
164 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
as a connected whole. All this, it may be added, is even
more true of Hebrew than of other languages, on account
of the symmetric structure of its sentence and the remark-
able flexibility of its word order.
It is interesting to find that Quintilian shared the view
of his contemporary Jewish teachers as to the desirability
of dealing with a connected sentence rather than a single
word. "A single word," he tells us, "is more likely to be
faulty than to possess any intrinsic merit : for although we
may speak of a word as appropriate, distinguished or sub-
lime, it can possess none of these properties save in relation
to connected and consecutive speech; since when we praise
words, we do so because they suit the matter/* 9
The intimate association between school and Synagogue,
which has been often stressed by us, renders it highly prob-
able that both institutions employed essentially the same
method in their treatment of the Bible lesson. This
method had two principal features: the connected verse
as a unit and a free rendering in the vernacular according
to the sense rather than the letter of the text. There is
some ground for believing that the lesson in the school was
conducted in the following manner : first a reading of the
verse in the original; then a translation, or explanation in
the vernacular; and finally, another reading in Hebrew
alone, TMs, at any rate, would seem to have been the
practice of the individual student. 10 The translation was
therefore used only as a means of providing a quick
approach to the meaning of the text and was discarded as
soon as it accomplished its function.
In post-Talmudic ages the method of translation in the
Jewish school gradually deteriorated until it lost all the
pedagogically valuable elements once so prominent in it.
The verse was no longer taken as a whole, but broken op
Into so many separate words, which were treated as units
for the purpose of translation regardless of their gram-
matical peculiarities or their place in the sentence. And
instead o a free and flexible explanation, a rigid translation
was demanded for each separate word. The result was
often that the children did not see the wood for the trees
and the Bible lesson became little more than a dry linguistic
exercise. This form of Instruction survived all the attacks
of educational reformers and Is at the present day still In
use In the Jewish school in various parts of the world. 11
Translation as a method of language teaching has been
the subject of heated controversies In recent times. One of
the earlier pioneers of the " Direct method/* Victor, con-
sidered that translation was an art which did not belong
to the school. Others, less extreme, would yet drastically
restrict its use. Thus a prominent English educationist
tells us that the premature demand for It results In the
pupil's murdering both languages impartially. And the
translator outside the school, especially he who follows the
text too literally, has come In for many an uncomplimen-
tary epithet which reminds us of the dictum of the ancient
Jewish rabbi. So, for instance, according to R. L. Steven-
son, "a translation is like the wrong side of a piece of
tapestry; it is a blackguardly travesty." 12 At any rate the
least objectionable form of it as far as the school is con-
cerned would seem to be that of the Jewish teacher In
Talmudic times: the connected verse, or sentence, as a
whole; a free explanation in the mother tongue; and finally
an expressive reading in the original alone. In this form
the method Is less likely to interfere with the attainment
of the recognised aim, of language learning: the establish-
ment of direct association between experience and expres-
DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL
I. Comenlus on discipline. Quotation from the ** Ethics of
the Fathers.** A picture of the Talraudic elementary school.
II. Severe discipline was rendered necessary by the form of
the organisation. Another cause of the severity of discipline
was the ** spirit of the times." Theories of punishment in the
Bible. III. Ideas on punishment in Talmudic times. Com-
parison with the Hellenistic school. The manner of flogging.
Children's reactions to flogging. The offence of "talking."
Flogging as a stimulus to intellectual effort. Pupils were ex-
pected to perform little offices for their teachers. The story of
the boy SamiteL Severity of chastisement. Illustrations from
the Talmud. Rewards. The story of the saintly teacher.
"THE very sun in the heavens gives us a lesson on this
point (discipline). In early spring, when plants are young
and tender, he does not scorch them, but warms and
invigorates them by slow degrees, not putting forth his
full heat until they are full-grown and bring forth fruit
and seeds. ... In the same way a musician does not strike
his lyre a blow with his fist or stick, nor does he throw it
against the wall, because it produced a discordant sound;
but, setting to work on scientific principles, he tunes it and
gets it into order. Just such a skilful and sympathetic
treatment is necessary to instil a love of learning into the
minds of our pupils, and any other procedure will only
convert their idleness into antipathy and their lack of
interest into downright stupidity." 1
It is difficult to realise that a man like Comenius, who
could write so movingly about children, should declare
almost in the same breath that it is an " incontestable fact
DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL 167
that punishment should be employed towards those who
err." He does, It Is true, make a distinction between an
offence against God and an offence against Prisclan that
is, between moral delinquency and Intellectual incapacity,
The former only is " a crime and should be expiated by an
extremely severe punishment/' But among these " crimes "
are included not only blasphemy and obscenity, but also
" disobeying the master's orders," envy and idleness! 2
After this the reader will perhaps be less surprised at
the inconsistencies and contradictions in the views on the
child which we meet so often In rabbinical literature. In
their own way the rabbis could speak of childhood almost
as beautifully as Comenius. Listen, for example, to the
" Every day an angel goes out from the presence of the
Holy One, blessed be He, to destroy the world and turn It
into nothing. Then He bethinks Himself of the school-
children and immediately His anger is turned Into mercy. f?s
Many similar passages are scattered throughout Tal-
mudlc literature. But these mostly belong to preachers,
or to educational leaders and reformers. They show us
only one side of the picture. To see the other side, we
have to follow these " little saviours," to whom our sinful
world owes its daily escape, into the schoolroom and see
the actual conditions of their daily work.
The following well-known text from the " Ethics of the
Fathers " will afford us some idea of the general atmosphere
of the school.
" This is the way for the study of the Torah : bread and
salt thou must eat, and water by measure thou must drink;
upon the ground thou must sleep, and live a life of priva-
tion the while thou toilest in the Torah, If thou doest
thus, * happy shalt thou be and It shall be well with tfaee f ;
happy shalt thou be in this world and It shall be well with
thee in the world to come/' 4
x68 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
That there Is little exaggeration In this sombre picture,
which is intended as a description of life in the high school,
we know from the rabbinical schools in Eastern Europe in
modern times. In these institutions the rules for the
" way of the study of the Torah " were carried out almost
literally. The elementary school could hardly conform to
such a rigorous standard or children would not be chil-
dren. But it is most probable that in this, as in many
other respects, it looked up to the superior institution and
made a brave effort to copy its manners and customs. It
is at any rate certain that, in so far as the teacher could
help it, no unnecessary laxity of conduct was permitted.
How far he was able to enforce his will is a different
question. To answer this we need to have some idea of
the general conditions of the school: its organisation,
curriculum, and methods of teaching. These subjects are
dealt with fully elsewhere; a few bald lines will suffice
The school was held in the earlier period in the teacher's
home; in later times in the Synagogue, or in an adjoining
room. Of furniture there was none : the pupils sat on the
ground, "lying in the dust of the teacher's feet," 5 and
the teacher sat among them. The whole equipment con-
sisted of wax tablets and pointers, and of scrolls of the Law,
or special scrolls, which were scarce and very expensive.
These the children held on their knees, sometimes two or
three together using one scroll between them. Numbers were
fairly large anything up to fifty. Only in the fourth century
do we hear of an effort by an educational reformer to limit
the number for one teacher to twenty-five, but such reforms
spread only very slowly. Since there was no idea of the
technique of class teaching in those times, we hear of no
attempt at classification. Children from the age of six, or
even younger, up to probably the age of thirteen, were
taught in the same school and in the same class. As in
the Greek school, the day began early, about sunrise, and
finished after nightfall. But unlike his Hellenistic con-
temporary who could lie at nights and dream of the
freedom of the holidays/ the Jewish boy had practically
no vacations, except the festivals and, perhaps, some short
half-holidays. The curriculum consisted mainly of the
Bible, studied out of an unvocalised text, and of the liturgy s
for which no books existed at all. The lessons were not
only recited but chanted, which relieved somewhat the
strain on the memory. The most interesting part of the
work probably was the practical training in religious cere-
monial in which the school co-operated with the home.
Teaching, as all over the ancient world, was individual,
the pupils between their turns being left largely to them-
Discipline in such a place would tax the powers even
of the most gifted of teachers. It could hardly be main-
tained without making, in the words of Comenius, "the
school resound with shrieks and blows." The goldsmith's
method of " gentle taps " on his precious metal would be
quite inadequate. It was the strap, plied frequently and
heavily, by which the teacher could hope to keep up a
semblance of order, or get any work done.
In order to avoid any misapprehension, it is necessary
to point out that the Jewish school of Talinudic times was,
in its organisation, type of curriculum and methods very
much like its contemporary Hellenistic schools. The most
striking difference was the absence in the Jewish school of
secular subjects: writing, arithmetic, gymnastics, and in-
strumental music. But this was compensated for by the
rich variety of ritual and ceremonial practices which never
fail to make their appeal to the child. But it was not the
content of education that necessitated severe disciplinary
170 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
methods. It was rather the form of Its organisation, and
this was the same in its essentials all over the ancient
Another, and even more important, cause of the severity
of discipline was the "spirit of the times." Corporal punish-
ment was a universally sanctioned form of correction, and
the school reflected more or less faithfully the manners and
practices of adult society. We are therefore not surprised
to find the birch or the strap, as the case might be, the
supreme arbiter in the affairs of the school, wherever that
might be situated, in Athens, or Rome, or Alexandria, or
Jerusalem. More humane views of discipline were voiced
from time to time by enlightened educationists; but these
made but little headway down to our own days.
This rather lengthy discussion is made necessary by the
fact that, with some notable exceptions, Jewish education
is treated by historians as if it were an isolated incident,
completely cut off from the general stream of the history
of education. This view is largely responsible for the
stagnant state in which the subject is finding itself at the
present time. For a proper evaluation of the Jewish school,
of its aims and ideals, and its methods, it must be studied in
the wider context of general education of which through-
out its history it formed part. Through the medium of
the early Christian school it has played its part in helping
to shape the development of general educational thought;
whilst in its own turn it was never completely immune
from the influence of the ideas and practices in the con-
temporary non- Jewish school.
Was there any generally accepted theory of punishment
among Jewish teachers of those times? As has already
been suggested, such a theory, assuming that it existed,
would have been a reflection of current ideas in adult
society. We have therefore to discover the nature of these
ideas, and this is by no means an easy matter.
We are told by writers on the subject that " in Hebrew
Law the dominant principle was the jus talionis " " as he
did, so shall it be done to him " and that it was an advance
when retribution was made proportionate to the crime. 7
This, however, seems to be too simple to be true. There
is indeed abundant evidence for this view. **An eye for
an eye" immediately occurs to the mind. But there are
not many theories, of religion s ethics, or education, for
which one could not find evidence in the Bible. And this
is even more true of the Talmud. An examination of the
relevant passages will show, perhaps somewhat to our sur-
prise,, that almost all the principal theories of punishment,
ancient as well as modem, are represented in biblical
literature. Often enough these various theories are found
side by side with a disregard for logical consistency and
systematic formulation which one must expect in books of
such a composite nature. Yet it is possible to trace a fairly
continuous line of development.
In the earlier writings, such as the Book of the Covenant,
the dominant principle is that of retributive justice. To
use again Comenius* words, it is based on " the incontest-
able proposition that punishment should be employed to-
wards those who err." But it was an effort to restrain in
some way primitive vindictiveness, to make the punishment
proportionate to the crime, 8 The Book of Deuteronomy
introduces a new principle which can be best expressed in
modern terminology as "protective*' or "preventive"
punishment. Again and again it insists that the object of
punishment is either to "destroy the evil" to protect
society, or that "others may hear and be afraid/* that is
to deter would-be criminals. As yet it is the "ends of
justice " or the interests of the community that are chiefly
considered. The criminal himself, his motives, the likely
effect of the punishment upon his future behaviour, are
largely ignored, until" we come to the prophetic writings, in
i 7 2 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
which it is the sinner, rather than the sin, that is the chief
object of concern. Punishment as a means of reforming
the evil-doer has become the predominant idea. This is
brought out with particular force by Ezekiel. One need
only instance chapter xviii: a striking sermon on the
subject of the reformative principle of punishment. " Have
I any pleasure at all in the death of the wicked? and not
that he should turn from his way and live?"
But prophecy would be meaningless without the idea of
repentance or reform. This idea is indeed its very corner-
stone. And yet even in the later literature the old retri-
butive principle emerges quite often. This need cause little
surprise: old ideas living on side by side with the new
which are supposed to have replaced them is not an un-
common manifestation in the history of human thought.
Another theory deserving mention is that punishment
has in itself a training value for the " testing " or " harden-
ing" of character. It is already found in Deuteronomy,
and it apparently forms the main contribution of Elihu to
the debate between Job and his friends. 10 In adult life
this can have application only in the sphere of relations
between God and man. The sinister implications of such
a theory in the school, where, in the words of Quintilian,
" a man is allowed so much authority over an age so weak
and so unable to resist ill-treatment/' need hardly be
stressed. That such ideas did penetrate the school at one
time or another is sufficiently clear from the incident of
Erasmus' teacher which will be given in a later chapter.
The preceding discussion will enable us to appreciate
more clearly the ideas on punishment current among
Jewish teachers of Talmudic and earlier times. Our chief
authorities for the earlier period, Proverbs and Ben-Sira,
DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL 173
date from a time when the more advanced views on the
object of punishment had already found a fairly wide
acceptance. The idea of " revenge " or " retribution " is
almost entirely absent from them when they are concerned
with children. Punishment is directed not to the past, but
to the present and the future. Its object is not the expiation
of sins, but the eradication of evil habits, the moral and
intellectual reformation of the offender. That the rod can
accomplish all this they had no manner of doubt.
In Talmudic times the attitude to the child underwent a
radical change, but the ideas on punishment current in the
later biblical period continued to hold sway in the school.
The rod of the Bible, it is true, has disappeared; we hear
instead only of the strap perhaps as a result of Hellenistic
influence. But whether this meant a change for the better
from the child's point of view it is not easy to say. In the
Roman school there were several instruments for the
infliction of punishment, graded according to the gravity
of the offence. In the Hellenistic school, we learn from
the third mime of Herondas, there was more than one kind
of strap. The truant boy begs the teacher not to use the
stinging oxtail, but "the other one." 11 There is some
reason to think that the Jewish teacher also had more than
one arrow in his quiver. There was a heavy strap, used for
inflicting stripes upon adults, of which the Talmud gives
us a detailed description. 12 It is not unlikely that it was
used also in the school. But Rav, a famous scholar of the
third century C.E. and an educational reformer, advised an
elementary schoolmaster of his time to employ only a shoe-
strap for flogging children. 13 To say on the strength of
this, as some writers do, that the Jewish teacher used
nothing heavier than a shoe-strap is confusing a pious wish
with historic fact. 14 Teachers disregarded Rav's advice in
the same way as he himself ignored the advice of Proverbs
i 74 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The manner of flogging may be inferred from indirect
Talmudic references. The culprit was not, as in the
Hellenistic and other schools, hoisted on the back of some
other pupil or assistant, but " bent over a post " and beaten
on the back between the shoulders. 15
Floggings, as might be expected, were frequent. We
even read of pupils who were flogged every day and who
showed signs of fear at the mere sight of the strap, even
before they knew for whom it was intended a kind of
" conditioned reflex." 16 We are also told something of the
children's reactions to punishment. Four types are dis-
tinguished : one who is flogged and remains silent; another
who "kicks"; a third who begs for mercy; and a fourth
who "asks for more." 17
Pupils were punished for all sorts of offences. One of
these was "talking" much the same as in modern schools.
"Children's talk," we read in an early text, "puts a man
out of the world "that is, if he encourages it.
What an interpretation a pious Jew could put on this
passage we may see from the will of a saintly scholar of
the eighteenth century. " My beloved son, I bear witness
to myself that though I had many children I never kissed
any of them, or took any of them in my arms; nor did I
indulge with them in idle talk. The warning of the rabbis
to beware of children's talk was constantly in my mind.
But, alas 1 We see now with our own eyes that the father
himself accustoms his children to idle talk." 18
But it should be borne in mind that teaching was in-
dividual and the pupils had plenty of time on their hands
between their turns. Talking and noise were inevitable in
the circumstances. Martial tells us what an annoyance a
Roman elementary school could be to people in the neigh-
bourhood. 19 A Jew of Talmudic times could not speak of
a school in the contemptuous terms of the Roman writer;
but we know from legal discussions that neighbours ob-
DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL 175
jected to schoolmasters settling in the vicinity, no doubt on
account of the noise, and that these objections were some-
times sustained by the law. 20
The children naturally were not always satisfied with
talking alone. We read, for instance, of Hiyya, the son of
Rav, mentioned before, who was fighting in school with
another boy, and the latter was apparently getting the best
of it, Hiyya, in the manner of many children in all ages,
"told the teacher." 21
That flogging was administered in cases of intellectual
inability or dullness goes without saying. The Book of
Proverbs had already advocated the use of the birch as a
stimulus to intellectual effort. There are rabbis who speak
boastingly of the " goodly blows " they had received from
their teachers before they managed to grasp a certain sub-
ject. 22 This was not In any way a peculiarity of the Jewish
school. We hear the same tale everywhere : from Augus-
tine, who speaks bitterly of the floggings he received for
being slow to learn; 23 from Heine, who tells us that he
learned to distinguish between the Latin regular and
irregular verbs by the greater number of blows he received
for the latter; down to the Yorkshire schoolmaster, who Is
said to have caned a whole class for spelling "pigeon"
without a " d."
The pupil was expected to perform certain little offices
for his teacher, sometimes of a domestic nature & thing
which children are seldom loth to do. A rabbi of the third
century C.E. goes as far as saying that " all the services
which a slave performs for his master, a pupil must also
do for his teacher "which, of course, must not be taken
HteraUy. Elsewhere we read that "to deny a pupil the
opportunity to perform services for his teacher is equal to
denying him kindness/' or "to removing from him the
fear of Heaven/' 24 The following incident shows that this
was extended also to the elementary school
176 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The boy Samuel, who In later life became famous as a
scholar, doctor, and astronomer, was crying when he was
found by his father. The following conversation then
took place between them.
"Why are you crying?"
"Because iny teacher beat me."
" Because he said to me : * You were feeding my son, but
you did not carry out the religious observance of washing
your hands before doing so."
"And why did you not wash your hands?"
" It was his son who ate, so why should I wash?
The father concluded the conversation by saying : " It
is not sufficient that he your teacher is ignorant of the
Law, but he must also beat youl"
What the consequences were for the teacher we are not
told. 25 It is an obvious inference from this story that
laxity in religious observance, real or imaginary, was dealt
with with a heavy hand.
How severe chastisement could be we may see from an
incident, dating from the fifth century CJE., of which we
have three separate reports in the Talmud, There was an
elementary schoolmaster who "transgressed" against his
pupils and was therefore removed from his post. The
"transgression," according to the greatest Talmudic com-
mentator, consisted in the fact that " he beat the children
until they died." But it is the sequel that is significant:
the teacher was restored to his position, because no one so
"thorough" could be found! 26
In one respect at least the Jewish schoolboy had an
advantage over his fellows in non-Jewish schools. During
a certain period of the year flogging was not permitted.
It is recorded that a great Palestinian scholar of the third
century C.E., who was the spiritual leader of his time,
ordered the teachers not to use the strap during the three
DISCIPLINE IN SCHOOL 177
weeks which separate the fasts commemorating the fall of
Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. It was
apparently feared that In such an unlucky time flogging
might end in a serious accident. And so the saddest season
of the year was turned for the schoolboy Into a holiday
from the strap. 27
Rewards, presumably for good progress, have been re-
ferred to before. The following story Is interesting in this
connection. "Rav came to a certain place where he pro-
claimed a fast because of the absence of rain, but no rain
fell Then a certain man came forth and began to lead in
the public prayer. As soon as he uttered the first sen-
tence, "Thou causest the wind to blow/ the wind began
to blow. When he said, 'And the rain to fall/ the rain
came down. To Rav's question as to what was his profes-
sion, he answered : * I am an elementary schoolmaster, and
I teach the children of the poor as well as the children of
the rich; and from him who cannot afford it, I take
nothing. I also have a fish pond, and the boy who is
unwilling to learn, I bribe with these and coax him until
he comes and learns/ " 2 *
BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE"
I. Introductory. Bertholet on trades and callings amongst the
ancient Hebrews. Criticism. The Bible on the skilled crafts-
man; and on the toiler in general. The equation of "know-
ledge " with " virtue " was unknown to the Bible. 1 1. The
conception of " pure " knowledge as an ideal could only arise
in a society like that of Greece. Illustrations from Plutarch
and others. The separation between a liberal and a profes-
sional education. III. Ben-Sira on "knowing and doing."
A Hebrew variation on a popular Greek theme. Suggested
sources of Ben-Sira *s inspiration. IV. A strong reaction
against Ben-Sira *s views in later times. Jewish scholars usually
followed some trade. The story of Rabbi Joshua.
THE great educational discovery of the nineteenth century,
according to Dr. Ballard, was the human hand. The re-
action against mere book learning in the school which set
in towards the end of the past century has grown steadily
stronger and has received an added impetus from the
changed outlook on cultural values in the post-war period.
But whilst the training value of the arts and crafts is a
modern discovery, the underlying wider problems of labour
and leisure, or of the supposed antithesis between a " liberal "
and a "professional" education, exercised the minds of
educationists since the days of ancient Greece* These
problems were first clearly formulated in classical Athens,
but they also claimed the active attention of the Jewish
teacher in the period with which we are concerned.
The Jewish attitude to manual work and to the teaching
of arts and crafts will be discussed in the following two
chapters. By way of anticipation we may say that the ideas
i8a THE JEWISH SCHOOL
of the Talmudic teachers on the subject under discussion
will be shown to approach much nearer to modern views
than might be expected. In later times, as a result of
adverse external conditions, a sharp change took place in
the Jewish outlook on religious and cultural values, and
manual work came to be regarded in a negative manner
reminiscent of the attitude of classical Greece. In modern
Jewish education, especially under the influence of the cul-
tural revival in Palestine, a strong tendency to return to
the older, more original Jewish views on manual work has
become the outstanding feature. This, however, is beyond
the province of our present enquiry.
The following quotation from Bertholet's "History of
Hebrew Civilisation" may serve as a fitting introduction
to our subject. This is how he begins his description of
trades and callings among the ancient Hebrews : " We must
lay aside our modern conceptions of trades and callings
when we try to understand what these meant to the ancient
Hebrews. It is significant that the story of Paradise was
written under the impression that the divine curse rested
on all human toil. Man toils *in the sweat of his brow/
and the ground brings forth thorns! In spite of all the
passages lauding the excellence of the land, the fact that its
stony ground yielded a harvest only in return for great
toil schooled the Hebrew to take the view that all work
means toil, and he would not have been an Oriental had he
not done his best to keep all toil as far away from him as
It is not easy to see what this curious homily is based on
unless it be the word "cursed" in the Paradise story,
where, Incidentally, it is applied not to work but to the
ground. Nor does the writer himself take the trouble to
justify his view. On the contrary, the rest of the chapter
seems to be devoted to a repudiation of the principal idea
of the introduction.
BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE " 183
The same biblical text also evoked a homily from a rabbi
of the third century, and it is rather interesting to compare
the two. " When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to
Adam : ' Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth for thee/
his eyes began to flow with tears. * O master of the world/
said he, * shall I and my ass eat out of the same crib?* But
when he was further told, ' In the sweat of thy brow shall
thou eat bread/ Ms mind was appeased/' 2
Here, it will be observed, there is no suspicion of any
"curse" attaching to labouring "in the sweat of the
brow " as long as it produces food fit for human consump-
tion. And there can be no doubt that this is the truer
representation of the outlook of the ancient Hebrew. For
no one without preconceived notions can carry away from
the Bible and this is equally true of the Hebrew Bible as
of the New Testament the impression that toil is some-
thing "to be kept away as far as possible/' or even that it
is in any way undignified or incompatible with any station
in life however high. To till the ground was man's natural
calling. " For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon
the earth, and there was no man to till the ground " runs
the simple tale of the creation of man. The great national
heroes, men like Abraham, Moses, Saul, or David, were
peasants and shepherds. But there is never a suggestion
that there was anything out of the ordinary in that. In
the same natural manner is the name of "Shepherd"
applied to God. 3
As to skilled craftsmen, they are invariably spoken of
with respect. The following characteristic passage shows
it sufficiently dearly. "And the Lord spoke unto Moses,
saying, See I have called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri,
the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him
with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding,
and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning
works, to work in gold and in silver and in brass, and in
184 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
cutting of stones to set them, and of carving of timber, to
work in all manner of workmanship , . . and in the hearts
of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom that they
may make all that I have commanded thee."
This is typical of the Bible as a whole. The skilled
worker is wise-hearted; he is possessed of wisdom and
understanding; he is filled with the spirit of God. 4
While this almost reverential attitude is reserved for the
" cunning " craftsman, the toiler in general also occasion-
ally comes in for a word of praise. Sometimes we hear of
the healthy contempt of the hard-working farmer for the
idler, 5 or of the suspicion with which the simple peasant
regards the crafty merchant. 6 But as a rule the Bible is
neither eulogistic nor deprecatory of work. It simply takes
it for granted that man has to labour in order to sustain
life. It is not aware of an antithesis between a " rational "
and a " menial " occupation; still less of such problems as
" labour and leisure," or " knowing and doing." The equa-
tion of " virtue " with " knowledge," or of the highest good
with philosophic contemplation, was unknown to it.
" Virtue," even in later times, when it was already identi-
fied with "wisdom," consisted mainly in dealing justly
with one's fellow-men in the ordinary run of practical life,
and in discharging one's duties towards God in a super-
ficially correct or, as the prophets demanded, in a more
inward manner. 7
The conception of " pure " or contemplative knowledge
as an ideal, or as a means of achieving perfect happiness
or perfect virtue, was utterly strange to the Jews of biblical
times. The antithesis between a worthy life that is, a
life of reason and contemplation and the " mere living "
of those who have to spend their energies in labour of all
kinds, could have no meaning in the social and economic
BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE" 185
conditions of ancient Judea. It could only arise in a society
in which the social-economic structure was based on a
division of the people into those who had to labour for a
living and those who were relieved from this necessity.
Such conditions existed in Greece, where a comparatively
small number of citizens subsisted on the labour of a great
mass of working slaves, who rendered all types of menial
and even intellectual services. 8 The few at the top could
devote themselves to their own physical and intellectual
improvement, and it was inevitable that " leisure " should
become an ideal whilst all manner of labour should be re-
garded as servile.
" One of the greatest privileges that Lycurgus procured
his countrymen/' Plutarch tells us, " was the enjoyment of
leisure, the consequence of his forbidding them to exercise
any mechanic trade. It was not worth their while to take
great pains to raise a fortune, since riches were of no
account, and the helots who tilled the ground were
answerable for the procedure. ... To this purpose we have
a story of a Lacedaemonian, who, happening to be at
Athens while the court sat, was informed of a man who
was fined for idleness, and when the poor fellow was re-
turning home in great dejection, attended by his con-
doling friends, he desired die company to show him the
person that was condemned for keeping up his dignity.
So much beneath them they reckoned all attention to
mechanic arts and all desires of riches!" 9
That is true also of other parts of Greece, with the ex-
ception of Athens, where public opinion was more favour-
able to labour. "The Hellenes as a nation regarded all
forms of handicraft as bourgeois and contemptible. . . .
To do anything in order to extract money from someone
else was, in their opinion, vulgar and ungentlemanly. . . "
The cheapness and abundance of serf or slave labour made
it possible for a large proportion of the free population to
186 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
live in idleness and devote their time to the development
of the body by physical exercises, of the mind by per-
petual discussions, and of the imagination by art and
The cities in which the nobility was in power, we are told
by another writer, had nothing but disdain for the labour-
ing classes, and often the name of citizen was considered
incompatible with the exercise of any trade whatever. In
some places shopkeepers were admitted to the magistracy
only ten years after retiring from business; in others even
fanning was a disgrace. In one city the infamy attaching
to all trades was such that they had to be put into an
administrative service entrusted to public slaves. And the
philosophers and thinkers, with the exception of Socrates,
were led to defend these prejudices. Changed conditions
in the later Hellenistic period rendered these views un-
tenable in their extremer form, but the upper classes con-
tinued to feel for labour some of the contempt bestowed
on it in earlier times. 11
In such circumstances arose the separation between a
" liberal " and a professional education, a distinction which,
formulated by the Greeks more than two thousand years
ago, has continued to influence educational thought down
to the present day. For in modern times also, no less than
in Greece of old, although in a different form, the sharp
social and economic differentiation between the leisured
and the labouring classes tended to encourage and keep
alive that distinction. This aspect of the educational legacy
of Greece is not always fully appreciated. 12
Jewish thought in biblical times knew nothing of this
distinction. It is necessary to bear this clearly in mind in
order that we may see in their true light the developments
BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE 1 * 187
tliat took place In this connection in the Greek and Roman
The first time we hear of a change in the Jewish view
on manual work is in the Book of Ben-Sira. And it comes
with a suddenness and abruptness for which the reader of
older Jewish literature is entirely unprepared. We get the
impression that something akin to a spiritual revolution
had taken place during the immediately preceding times
of which we otherwise know so little.
This is what Ben-Sira has to tell us on the problem of
" knowing and doing."
* * The wisdom of the scribe cometh by opportunity of leisure.
He that hath little business can become wise.
How can he become wise that holdeth the goad,
And glorieth In brandishing the lance?
Who leadeth cattle and turnetn about oxen.
And whose discourse is with bullocks?
Likewise the maker of carving and cunning device
Who by night and by day hath no rest.
So also is the smith that sitteth by the furnace
And regardeth the weighty vessels.
The flame of the ire cracketh his flesh
And with the heat of the furnace he gloweth.
Likewise the potter who sitteth at his wheel
And driveth the vessel with the soles of his feet.
His arms are cracked by the clay,
And before old age he is bent and bowed.
* * * * *
All these are deft with their hands,
And each is wise in his handiwork.
Without them a city cannot be inhabited
And wherever they dwell they hunger not.
But they shall not be enquired of for public counsel,
And in the assembly they have no precedence.
i88 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
On the seat of the judge they do not sit,
And law and justice they understand not.
Not so he that applieth himself to the fear of God
And to set his mind upon the Law of the Most High,
Who searcheth out the wisdom of all the ancients,
And is occupied with the prophets of old,
Who heedeth the discourses of men of renown
And entereth into the deep things of parables;
Searcheth out the hidden meanings of proverbs
And is conversant with the dark sayings of parables ;
Who serveth among great men
And appeareth before princes.
Who is careful to seek unto his Maker
And before the Most High entreat mercy
* * * * *
He himself directeth counsel and knowledge,
And setteth his mind on their secrets.
His understanding many do praise,
And never shall his name be blotted out." 13
This is much more than a description of the "ideal
scribe," as some take it to be. It is a philosophy of life and
therefore also a philosophy of education, and is of con-
siderable importance for the understanding of the develop-
ment of Jewish educational thought. The author gives us
his religious, sociological and political views. The ideal of
a worthy life is freedom from all physical occupations;
leisure to be devoted to the study of the Law and the
Prophets; to the searching out of the meaning of the
proverbs and parables; to prayer. Only men who lead such
lives can have wisdom and understanding, and are fit to
give counsel, to serve among the great and to " appear be-
fore princes " that is, to be the rulers of the " city " or
On the other side there are the peasant, the smith, the
potter all those who have to labour for a livelihood. They
are indeed " wise " in their own work. Also, they are in-
BEN-SIRA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE" 189
dispensable to the existence of the state. But they possess
neither physical beauty nor spiritual perfection and are
therefore " not fit to govern."
In other words, they are means, necessary means,
for the existence of others; they are not ends in themselves.
It is abundantly evident that this philosophy cannot be
regarded as a natural development of the older Jewish out-
look on life; it bears clearly the stamp of a foreign importa-
tion despite the Hebrew phraseology with which the author
could not help clothing it. When we bear in mind that
he wrote at a time " when Hellenistic influence was at its
highest in Judea," and that he was apparently a well-
travelled man with personal experience of social and
political life in Hellenistic lands, it is not hard to find the
origin of Ms ideas. 14 The passage can indeed be best
described as a Hebrew variation on a popular Greek theme.
The conception of wisdom is essentially Jewish : the Law
and the Prophets; proverbs and parables; the wisdom of
the ancients. Again, Ben-Sira, as a Jew, could not fail to
emphasise the value of prayer. But the contempt for
mechanical trades; the denial to the artisan of the right to
take part in the government of the state; the stress laid on
the physical deformities caused by manual work these are
all purely Greek ideas. One might almost point to the
following as the source of his inspiration :
"... It is evident that what is necessary ought to be
taught to all; but that which is necessary for one is not
necessary for all; for there ought to be a distinction be-
tween the employment of a freeman and a slave. The first
of these should be taught everything useful which will not
make those who know it mean. Everything is to be
esteemed mean, and every art and every discipline which
renders the body, the mind, or the understanding of free-
men unfit for the habit and practice of virtue; for which
reason all those arts which tend to deform the body are
190 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
called mean, and all those employments which are exer-
cised for gain; for they take off from the freedom of the
mind and render it sordid. There are also some liberal
arts which are not improper for freemen to apply to in a
certain degree; but to endeavour to acquire a perfect skill
in them is exposed to the faults I have just mentioned." 15
The artisan, according to Aristotle, is inferior even to the
slave. He can only attain excellence in proportion as he
becomes a slave. And even the fine arts, such as music,
painting, or sculpture, in so far as their practice is con-
cerned, are in the same class as the " menial " occupations.
The denial of the artisan's fitness to participate in the
national government follows naturally from such views,
and " the best civic community," Aristotle further teaches
us, " will never admit an artisan to the franchise/'
Such ideas could never strike deep roots in the Jewish
communities, where the social and economic conditions
were totally different from those obtaining in Greece. Dur-
ing the pre-Maccabean period, when Hellenistic culture
threatened to engulf Judea along with the rest of the old
world, it is not unlikely that Greek views on labour pene-
trated into some circles especially among the upper
classes. But the reaction later on was strong and wide-
spread. " Love work and hate lordship/' a leadiiig scholar,
a hundred and fifty years after Ben-Sira, teaches us. And
he is typical of the whole succession of rabbis down to the
end of the Talmudic period. The biblical heroes, Abra-
ham, Moses, David, have their counterparts in Hillel the
wood-cutter, Eliezer the farmer, Joshua ben Hananiah the
needle-maker, Akiba ben Joseph the shepherd, Johanan the
shoe-maker, and innumerable others. 16
It should be borne in mind that a teacher of the " Oral
BEN-SERA AND "THE IDEAL SCRIBE" 191
Law " was forbidden to charge a fee, and even those called
upon to administer justice were only allowed to receive
a compensation for die actual time taken off from their
ordinary work. In such circumstances scholars, with the
exception of a small minority who enjoyed independent
means, were obliged to follow some occupation. This was
very often agriculture, especially in Babylonia; but other
trades were also favoured. And it seldom occurred to any-
one that this could be a disqualification from leadership
of the highest rank.
The following may be taken as typical of the general
position. Gamaliel, a great-grandson of Hillel, and the
spiritual head of the community towards the end of the
first century C.E., was removed from his position by the
members of the Academy after a sharp controversy in the
course of which the popular scholar Rabbi Joshua ben
Hananiah was treated by him rather harshly. After some
time Gamaliel decided to go and ask Joshua's forgiveness.
When he reached the house he saw that the walls were
black with soot. So he said: "From the walls of your
house one can recognise that you are a needle-maker."* To
which Joshua replied: "Alas for the generation whose
leader you are, and alas for the boat of which you are the
captain 1 You do not know of the suffering of the
scholars; how they maintain themselves; how they earn
their livelihood." Gamaliel then said: "I humble myself
before you; forgive me." But Joshua would not relent.
The former again said : " Do it for the sake of my father's
house." This appeal produced the desired effect. And it
was the same scholar and manual worker, Joshua, who was
sent on important missions to the Roman Emperor,
* Or charcoal burner,
ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER TIMES
I. Talmudic eulogies of labour. The difference between the
legal and the homiletical types of literature. Illustrations from
the Talmud. II. Discords in the chorus of praise. Reasons
for these. Further illustrations from rabbinical literature. Some
Hellenistic influence. III. Hereditary trades. The learning
of a trade was an essential part of a boy's education. Not all
trades were equally favoured. Agriculture and commerce.
AND yet here, as in other respects, Hellenistic influence
had not been completely eradicated. For while the Bible
is not even aware of such a problem as the social or political
status of the artisan, the Talmud grows more and more
eulogistic of the value of labour, and one finds it difficult
to avoid the impression that this excessive emphasis was
intended to counteract some powerful influence from the
As might be expected there is in this respect a difference
between the legal and the homiletical types of rabbinical
literature. In the former we meet with the more natural
attitude with which we are familiar from the Bible. It is,
however, the latter that often affords a clearer insight into
the people's mentality. Thus we read in an early law:
" One may negotiate on a Sabbath for his boy to be taught
the book (literacy) and to be taught a trade." Again, " The
father is obliged with regard to his son to circumcise him,
and to redeem him thirty days after birth and to teach
him the Torah, and to arrange for his marriage, and to
teach him a trade. . . . Rabbi Judah says, He who does
ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER TIMES 193
not teach his son a trade accustoms him to robbery/' 1 One
cannot fail to note here that the learning of a trade is
treated in the same manner as the study of the Torah : the
one is apparently no more important than the other. The
fact that trade is mentioned after the Torah probably shows
us the chronological order in which these subjects were
From another early source we get an idea of the social
position of the common labourer.
Once Rabbi Johanan, the son of Mathia, told his son to
go and hire some labourers. So he hired the labourers and
arranged to provide them also with food. Whereupon his
father told him : " My son, even if you provide for them
meals like those of King Solomon's in his rime, you will
not have done your duty by them, for they are the de-
scendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." 2 In the opinion
of a famous authority of the third century, a labourer is
entitled to renounce his agreement even in the middle of
the day something like the legalisation of "lightning
strikes." He bases himself on the Bible, which says that
the children of Israel are "slaves to the Lord," but not
slaves to other slaves. The rabbis were even prepared to
forego in favour of the craftsman some of the respect which
they claimed from the rest of the community, and so did
not require him, when engaged in his work, to rise before
a scholar. 3
Only a few typical extracts can be given here of the
very extensive homiletical literature.
"The scholars of Jabneh were wont to say, *I am a
created being and so is my fellow-man who is not a
student a created being. My work is in town (study); his
work is in the field. I rise early for my work; so does he
for his. He cannot distinguish himself in my work, just
as I cannot in his. It might be said that I do much study
of the Torah and he does but little. But we have learned
194 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
that there Is no difference whether one studies much or
little as long as one's heart is directed towards heaven/ " 4
The apologetic tone for lahour is unmistakable here. It
is even more clearly brought out In some of the following :
"Love work. How should one love it? It teaches us that
one must love work and that he must not hate it. For
just as the Torah was given by a covenant, so was work
given by a covenant; as it is said, ' Six days shalt thou
labour and do all thy work, but the seventh day shall be a
Sabbath to the Lord thy God/ "
" Adam did not taste any food until he had done some
work, as it is said, ' And He put him in the Garden of Eden
to dress it and keep it/ and only after that is it said, " Of
every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat."
" Nor did the Holy One, blessed be He, cause His divine
presence to rest on Israel until they had done some work,
as It is said, ' And let them make Me a sanctuary that I
may dwell among them/ "
" He who lives by his labour is superior to a God-fearing
man; for concerning a God-fearing man it is said, * Happy
is the man who fears the Lord/ whereas concerning him
who lives by his labour it is said, ' If thou eat the labour of
thine hands, happy shalt thou be and it shall be well with
thee ' : happy shalt thou be in this world and it shall be
well with thee in the world to come."
"One must not say, 'I shall eat and drink and enjoy
myself and take no trouble, and heaven will have mercy/
It is said, * And Thou didst bless the work of his hands ' :
a man must toil and work with his two hands : then God
will send him His blessing."
" An excellent thing is the study of the Torah combined
with some worldly occupation, for the labour demanded by
them both makes sin to be forgotten. All study of the
Torah without work must in the end be futile and lead to
ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER TIMES 195
The last part of this statement, with one or two verbal
changes, would win the hearty approval of many a modern
The following may be taken as popular sayings, although
not all of them are anonymous.
" Great Is work, for It honours him who performs it."
" Idleness leads to Immorality."
" Idleness leads to Insanity/'
"Seven years the famine lasted; It never reached the
" Skin a dead animal in the market-place and get paid
for it; and do not say, ' I am a great man and it Is below
my dignity/" 5
This chorus of praise was not, however, without its dis-
cords. Now and again another strain makes itself heard,
affording us a glimpse into a different current of thought
which the majority strove to counteract. Among those
who differed from the general view we find some teachers
of very high standing in rabbinical literature. It would,
however, be a mistake to consider that they derived their
inspiration entirely from Hellenistic philosophy, although
some of their phraseology is no doubt borrowed from that
source. Their object was not the depreciation of labour but
rather the glorification of study that is, the study of the
Torah. They all belong to the period following the defeat
of Bar-Kochba, and their views must be related to the
social and political conditions which arose as a result of
that critical event. As has been repeatedly emphasised
previously, the disastrous failure of the rebellion under
Bar-Kochba formed a turning-point in the history of
Jewish educational thought as In that of Judaism in
general. Education was the only form of social activity
left to a people deprived of its political institutions; it
196 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
seemed to offer the only means of saving Judaism, from
extinction. There is no wonder that in these conditions it
was represented as the "highest good" to which a man
should devote himself to the exclusion of every other in-
terest. We have a parallel to that in modern times the
great enthusiasm for education in Prussia after its humili-
ating defeats at the hands of Napoleon. In his " Addresses
to the German Nation " Fichte appealed to the leaders to
turn to education as a means of national redemption. He
set all his hopes for Germany on a new national system of
education, and, we are told, " never before have the souls
of men heen so deeply stirred by the idea of raising the
whole existence of mankind to a higher level." 6 The posi-
tion of Palestine after 135 C.E. was not unlike that of
Prussia of 1806. Politically it was even worse, the Jewish
people having apparently lost all hopes of national in-
dependence. Many of the strangely exaggerated pane-
gyrics on the value of the Torah assume a different mean-
ing when placed against this social and political back-
ground. The sixth chapter of the " Ethics of the Fathers "
may be mentioned as an outstanding example of this type
of literature, although it belongs to a much later period. 7
The following is concerned more directly with the ques-
tion of labour versus' study.
"Our sages taught: 'And thou shalt gather in thy
corn' what need is there for the Bible to say that? Be-
cause it is written elsewhere, * This book of the Law shall
not depart from thy mouth ' maybe this would be taken
literally. Therefore is it written, ' And thou shalt gather
in thy corn': attend to these things in the usual way.
These are the words of Rabbi Ishmael. But Rabbi Simon
ben Yohai says, "If a man should plough in ploughing
time, and sow in seed-time, and reap in harvest-time what
would become of the Torah? Nay, but when Israel are
doing the will of the Omnipresent, their work will be done
ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER TIMES 197
for them by others, as it Is said, * And strangers shall stand
and feed your flocks/ But when Israel are not doing the
will of the Omnipresent, their work must "be done by them-
selves; and not only that, but they have to do the work of
other people, too, as it is said, ' And thou shalt serve thine
enemies.' " A rabbi of the fourth century comments on
this : " Many have followed the teaching of Rabbi Ishmael
and succeeded; others followed the teaching of Rabbi
Simon and did not succeed."
That the latter's views did not find any wide acceptance
in his own time may be seen from the remark of a col-
league of his : " Come and see the difference between the
former and the latter generations. The former generations
made their study regular and their work casual and they
succeeded in both; the latter generations made their work
regular and their study casual and succeeded in neither." 8
Rabbi Simon, it may be added, was a fugitive from the
fierce Roman persecution which followed the defeat of
Bar-Kochba, and, according to tradition, remained in
hiding for thirteen years, devoting himself during all this
time to the study of the Torah.
A scholar of the same period declares that he is going
to leave aside all the trades in the world and teach his son
only the Torah. Another contemporary of Rabbi Simon's,
a copyist by profession, would not go as far as that, his
view being that " a man should always teach Ms son a fine
and light trade/' 9 The distinction between a "fine" and
a " menial " occupation is, of course, a well-known Greek
idea. It is characteristic that among Jews in the later
Talmudic period tailoring was considered a " fine " trade.
A rather extreme view of manual work as an undignified
occupation is expressed by a famous rabbi of the third
century C.E. : " As soon as a man has been appointed a
leader of the community he is forbidden to do work in the
presence of three people." 10 As is evident from the con-
i$8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
text this was applied only to " menial " work. The author
of the statement was an astronomer as well as a doctor.
He did not apparently consider this latter craft " mean/'
although in the Talmud the doctor is counted amongst
other tradesmen. 11
As in the Hellenistic world in general, hereditary trans-
mission of trades was also the usual practice among Jews.
Already in the Bible we find families of scribes or workers
in linen. During second temple times we read of priestly
families that specialised in certain services in connection
with the temple ceremonial and would not disclose the
secrets of their arts to others. One of these excelled in
writing, others were bakers or incense-makers. In order
to exert pressure on these families, who evidently had a
monopoly of their trades, skilled craftsmen were brought
from Alexandria probably from the Jewish artisans'
guilds of which we read elsewhere. Specialisation was
apparently carried as far among Jews as in the rest of the
Hellenistic world. 12
In the third century C.E. we find a well-known scholar
endeavouring to prove from a biblical text that one must
not depart from one's ancestors' trade from which we
may gather that the practice of the hereditary succession
of trades was already beginning to weaken. It was never
rigidly adhered to, for apprenticeship was a well-estab-
lished institution in Talmudic times. From the earlier
period we have a record of a discussion whether a father
may make arrangements on a Sabbath for the appren-
ticing of his son to a tradesman, and the " joiner's appren-
tice" was quite a common figure in later times. It was
even apparently not uncommon for Jews to send their
sons to non-Jewish artisans to learn their trades. A pro-
hibition was necessary to prevent children from being
ATTITUDE TO LABOUR IN LATER TIMES 199
apprenticed to Idolaters, but not all non-Jews were included
among these. 13
The learning of a trade was an essential part of a boy's
education and was regarded as of equal importance with
the study of the Torah, although the latter was quite
naturally given first attention. In a well-known text we
get what may be considered a complete manual, in order
of time, of the bringing up of a boy until he reached his
manhood: circumcision; study of Torah; marriage; the
learning of a trade. 14
Naturally not all trades were equally favoured. Some
kinds of labour, such as grinding of meal, cutting of wood,
and drawing of water were already in Bible times re-
garded as degrading and fit only for slaves. So also was
the small trader or hawker held in low esteem among Jews
as amongst Greeks. 15 Commerce in general was apparently
held in suspicion on moral grounds. Ben-Sira tells us that
"a merchant shall hardly keep himself from wrong-
doing/' and in the Talmud we find an opinion that a man
is forbidden to make his son a shopkeeper, " whose trade is
a trade of robbers." The material advantages of commerce
could not, however, be overlooked. 16
There were other trades, besides that of the shopkeeper,
which were thought to lead to laxity of morals. These
were either the trades which involved frequent dealings
with women, or those whose followers were held to be
rather unscrupulous about other people's property, such
as the ass-driver or the shepherd. 17 Some occupations,
such as tanning and copper-mining or smelting, were re-
garded with so much contempt that their followers were
ostracised and could be forced to divorce their wives.
They were also exempted from the pilgrimage to the
temple, apparently because no one would keep them com-
pany on account of their ill-smelling work. These and
some others, we are told, may never be made kings or
200 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
high priests. But this, of course, reflects the conditions of
a time when these high offices became a mere memory. In
later times, however, they were apparently excluded from
communal offices. It should be mentioned that the doctor,
who is coupled with the butcher, is made the object of
a particularly severe condemnation by the rabbis: "The
best of doctors is doomed to hell; and the most honest
butcher is Amalek's partner." 18
On the other hand, agriculture, as might be expected,
was the most widespread as well as the most respected
occupation. One rabbi tells us that " a man who owns no
land is not a man at all," because it is written, "The
heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He hath
given to the children of men," this in spite of the fact that
agriculture had few material benefits to offer in comparison
with commerce, and that, in the language of a scholar of
the third century, a man must become a slave to the
ground if he is to get a living from it. 19
It is difficult to imagine how anyone would apprentice
his son to one of the despised trades. Their continuance
can only be explained by the fact that callings were in
those times so often hereditary.
"No trade will ever die out," Judah I, the compiler of
the Mishnah, teaches us. "Happy is he who sees his
parents engaged in a superior occupation: alas for him
who sees his parents engaged in an inferior occupation!
The world cannot go on without the perfume-maker, nor
without the tanner; happy is he whose profession is that
of the perfume-maker; alas for him whose profession is
that of the tanner! "
This expresses the practical point of view. A deeper
psychological note is struck by Rav, the famous disciple
of Judah I, who tells us that " the Holy One, blessed be
He, has made every profession attractive to him who has
to foUow it/' 20
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD
I. The position of the child in Bible times. Parental love.
The child as a gift from God. Children *s names. Preference
for the son. The daughter was not an unwelcome member of
the family. II. ** Exposing " was not common among Jews.
Child sacrifice. Other forms of infanticide. The danger to
childhood from tribal warfare. III. In the earlier times the
child was the property of his father. Illustrations from the
Bible. The family as the social unit. The prophets and the
idea of individual moral responsibility. Job and Ecclesiastes.
The conception of the free personality in post-temple times.
Infanticide was destroyed largely through the spread of the
Jewish view on the sanctity of life. IV. The fundamental
difference between the Jews and the Greeks in their social ideals
and in their attitude to the child. To the Greek thinker the
man was lost in the citizen. Among the Jews individuality was
never lost sight of. Talmudic teachers on the relation of the
individual to the community.
THE school, the home, and the community are the three
great educational agencies. So far most of our work has
been concerned with the school. To complete the picture
we will devote the concluding chapters to the life of the
child at home and in the community. We will begin with
the time when he was merely a possession of his father
with parental love as his only protection. We will then
show how, after a long and painfully slow development, he
finally acquired the right to his own life as a free human
personality. This, it will be found, the Jewish child
achieved some centuries before the children of other
peoples largely as a result of prophetic activity. After
that we will describe the child's life at home and his rela-
204 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
tlons with his parents. In the final chapter an attempt will
be made to construct of the available biblical and Tal-
mudic material a connected picture of the religious and
social life of the Jewish child.
"Can a woman forget her sucking child, not to have
compassion on the son of her womb?" Isaiah apparently
found it difficult even to imagine such a thing. " Is there
a father who hates his son?" exclaims a teacher who
lived seven or eight hundred years later. 1 This, too, was
thought to be impossible. The former is as typical of the
Bible as the latter of Talmudic literature. The child as
an object of love and tender care is a familiar biblical
figure. " When Israel was a child, then I loved him," says
the prophet simply in the name of God. " Is Ephraim a
dear son, a pleasant child? For as often as I speak of
him, I do earnestly remember him still" thus another
prophet a hundred and fifty years later. 2 The father's
compassion for his son is a standing simile. " As a father
pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear
Him." 3 We read of a father who cried in despair, " O my
son, would that I had died for theel" The same father
fasted and wept and lay on the ground all the time another
child of his was sick. 4 It goes without saying that the
feelings of love and pity are even stronger in the mother.
One recalls at once the incident, told with dignified re-
serve, of the "great woman" of Shunem who held her
sick child on her knees until he died; and the poignant
simplicity of the story of Hagar who sat at a distance " and
raised her voice and wept," unable to look on at the death
of the child she was compelled to abandon. 5
Such incidents have their parallels in other literatures.
They express the simple love for the child flowing from
the parental impulse, "nature's brightest invention," as
William McDougall calls it. It is, however, characteristic
of the Jewish mentality in those ancient times that chil-
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 205
dren were never considered a burden : the Bible contains
no suggestion of that. The child is regarded as a gift
from God, a mark of His grace, or a manifestation of His
will. This idea appears already in connection with the
first child born into the world; it is typical of the Bible in
general. 6 Children are "an heritage from the Lord," a
reward from Him. " These are my sons whom God hath
given me here/' Joseph informs his father. "Behold, I
and the children whom the Lord hath given me," says
Isaiah in the same words. And Job, expressing his resigna-
tion to the will of God, says simply : " The Lord gave, the
Lord hath taken away." 7 It is for this reason that children
were often given names which made them living symbols
of the threatened fate of the community, or of some special
circumstance in the life of their own family. Some had
the good fortune to be regarded as a token of God's favour
and were rewarded with such beautiful names as " Hef zi-
bah " or " Immanuel "; others, less fortunate, had to put up
with such ungraceful combinations as " Ichabod " or " Lo-
ruhamah," or with a harsh and incongruous concatenation
like " Maher-shalal-Hash-baz." 8 In the present time, too,
parents usually follow their own inclinations and seldom
consider the likely psychological effect of a name. But in
the case of the prophets the chief consideration was, of
course, the conviction that the child was sent into the
world on a special mission, to serve either as a warning or
as a harbinger of good tidings to his generation.
The son, the perpetuator of the father's line and name,
was shown preference. This is a natural, almost instinc-
tive idea which is hardly less active in modern than it was
in ancient humanity. The birth of a son was an occasion
of great joy; mourning for an only son was the current
simile for sorrow and lamentation. 9
It is noteworthy that this anxiety for the continuation of
the line was as strong amongst women as amongst men,
2o6 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
although it was the father's name that was preserved.
Rachel's despairing cry, " Give me children, or else I die/'
is merely expressive of the feelings of the childless wife
whose position in a polygamous family must have been
intolerable. The same may be true of Hannah's prayer.
On the other hand, the daughters of Zelophehad plead
apparently not on behalf of their own interests but for the
preservation of their father's name; and the wise woman of
Tekoa seems to be mainly concerned that " a name and a
remainder shall be left to her husband." 10
But it is characteristic of Jewish life in those early times
that, whilst the son is shown greater favour, the daughter
is not regarded as an unwelcome member of the family.
There is no trace in the Bible of the contemptuous attitude
to the girl so common amongst classical peoples and
especially amongst the Greeks. There was a current proverb
amongst the latter that " there is nothing more foolish than
to have children." This was directed especially against the
girl, who was apparently often exposed even if her father
was in a position to bring her up. 11 The simple Judean
peasant as we find him in the Bible was quite unripe for
such a sophisticated view. His idea of happiness was a
peaceful home after a day's toil in the field, and as de-
scribed by the Psalmist, a wife like a fruitful vine, and a
progeny "like olive plants (a mixed metaphor!) round the
table." Sometimes, when in a martial mood, he likened his
sons to arrows in the hand of a warrior; but at the same
time he also spoke with pride of the health and beauty of
his daughters, comparing them to "corner pillars hewn
out as figures." 12 In the description of Job's wealth and
greatness the writer has a word of praise for the beauty
of the daughters whose names alone are given, although it
may not be entirely without significance that the numerical
proportion of daughters to sons is three to seven. Simi-
larly, the prophet, in drawing the picture of the future
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 207
happy state of Jerusalem when its streets will be filled by
playing children, goes out of his way to make special men-
tion of the girls. 13 It would be easy to multiply instances
like these, but sufficient has been said to show that in the
Jewish family of those early days there was little dis-
crimination between the boy and the girl, and that as far
as parental love is concerned both seem to have been in
a rather happy position.
But parental love, although a natural law, is the parents'
gift rather than the child's right, and, as the experience
of humanity has shown, it has never proved a sufficient
protection for the child, even against his own parents.
From the earliest times down to the present day the law,
religious and civil, has always found it necessary to inter-
vene on behalf of the child in one form or another. If
any evidence were required for this, the Bible furnishes it
in abundance, as we shall presently see.
Exposure, or abandonment of unwanted children, a
common practice in the ancient world, never spread among
Jews. The stories of Hagar and Moses show some traces
of this practice, and a more definite reference to it may be
seen in EzekieFs harsh allegory of the origin of the Jewish
people, which contains the features usually found in the
stories of the exposure and accidental saving of undesired
children. The Psalmist may also have had this practice in
mind when he said, "My father and my mother have
abandoned me, but the Lord will take me up." 14 On the
other hand, Jeremiah, in describing an exceptionally severe
drought, speaks of the hind in the field abandoning its off-
spring : the exposure of children even during a famine did
not apparently occur to him. Nor does the writer of
Lamentations mention it in his description of the horrors
2o8 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
of the siege, although he has much to say of the suffering
of children even at the hands of their own mothers. 15 It is
quite safe to conclude that, although isolated instances might
have occurred, the idea of the exposure of children never
took hold among Jews. The Jewish view of the child as
a gift from God, combined with the economic conditions
of an agricultural community where every child meant an
additional worker, made Palestine unfavourable ground for
such a custom. It was the besetting sin of the Hellenistic
world, where social and economic conditions, and especially
the institution of slavery, favoured its development. But
by the time the Jews came in contact with Hellenism
prophecy had already done its work, and this work, as
will be shown later, affected deeply the general attitude to
But whilst the Jewish child of the earlier biblical period
was safe from abandonment, he was, like the children of
many other peoples of those times, threatened by an even
more terrible fate : to be offered up as a sacrifice to some
deity. And not all his parents' love would be a sufficient
protection against that danger. On the contrary, the
greater the love, the more acceptable the sacrifice and the
more efficacious in gaining the favour or averting the wrath
of some powerful but cruel god. This is the implication of
the well-known story of " the binding of Isaac." His escape
in the nick of time was, it would seem, at least partly due
to the circumstance of his being an only son. The fact that
she was an only child is also stressed in the story of
Jephtha's daughter, but even this did not save her. 16 The
danger to the child would be all the greater if he was a
first-born; but the gods had apparently some special claim
also upon the youngest. It may be said that no child was
entirely safe from this practice, which was widespread
amongst the Semitic as amongst other races. 17
The biblical references to child-sacrifice are too numerous
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 209
to be mentioned here. They cover the whole period from
the Patriarchs to the Captivity. Both the author of Isaiah
IviL as well as Ezekiel deal with it, the latter revert-
ing to it in three separate prophecies with a vehemence
which betokens recent, if not contemporary, happenings.
How recent the practice was is evident from the passionate
outburst of Jeremiah, who foretells a terrible fate for the
people as a punishment for this particular crime, 18 The
cases of Ahaz and Manasseh are singled out not because
they were exceptional, but on account of their especial
seriousness: the king setting an evil example to the
people. 19 That this horrible custom was by no means un-
common appears clearly from the prophetic writers as well
as from the legislative codes. One passage, in Leviticus,
chapter xx. is of particular significance in this respect. It
decrees the death penalty by stoning for the man who
sacrifices his child to Molech. But the writer is aware that
" the people of the land " may not regard such a man as a
criminal and therefore "hide their eyes" from him and
let him go free. He therefore warns them that God Him-
self will set His face against such a man and will cut him
off from amongst the people.
It is a good illustration of what Professor Stevenson de-
scribes as "the distinction between the traditional beliefs
and practices of the mass of the people and the higher re-
ligion which was chiefly represented by the prophets/' 20
It gives us some idea of the uphill fight carried on by the
leaders of Jewish religious thought against the prevailing
barbarism and of the part played by these leaders in the
struggle for the liberation of the child.
Even being made a sacrifice was not, it would appear, the
worst that could happen to a child. If certain biblical texts
are to be taken at their face value it seems to have been
possible during times of acute distress for fathers and even
mothers to kill their children for food. The Bible contains
sio THE JEWISH SCHOOL
six passages of this kind, two of these purporting to describe
actual occurrences. 21 One of the latter tells us of a bargain
entered into by two mothers to slaughter and boil! their
respective sons on successive days and share their flesh.
The common characteristic of all these texts is that they
deal with the same kind of situation: siege and famine.
Cases of cannibalism in conditions of extreme necessity,
such as siege or shipwreck, were not unknown even in
much later times. Some such isolated incidents may have
occurred during the siege of Samaria or Jerusalem.
Josephus, it will be remembered, records with considerable
circumstantial detail an occurrence of this kind during the
siege of Jerusalem by Titus, although, curiously enough,
he overlooks the biblical precedents. This horrible act, he
tells us, " unheard of among Barbarians and Greeks," pro-
duced a terrifying sensation even amongst the Zealots,
whose inhumanity he paints in the darkest colours. 22 The
writer of Kings also speaks of the "sensation" created:
" When the king heard the words of the woman, he rent
his garments" and determined to take action. But the
atmosphere is markedly different from that which we find
in Josephus. It reflects the conditions of an age when the
child had not yet acquired any rights, not even the right
to his own life.
The greatest danger to child life was the incessant tribal
warfare. The destruction of the enemy's infants and
sucklings, perhaps especially the males, seems to have been
a widespread practice. It may have been prompted not so
much by sheer cruelty as by an anxiety to prevent future
blood-revenge, which made the position all the worse for
the child. One cannot read without a shock such phrases
as " dashing the little ones to pieces," or " breaking them
against the rock." 23 Yet recent history has known similar
incidents, and most modern warfare seems to hold as little
promise for the child as that of primitive times.
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 2ji
The Babylonian captivity was a turning-point in the his-
tory of Judaism, but perhaps in no sphere of life was the
change from pre-exilic conditions more marked than in
the position of the child. If the attitude to childhood may
be taken as an index of social progress, then the advance
shown by the post-exilic community is very remarkable in-
deed. In the earlier times the child was a possession, the
property of his father, who could deal with him as he
dealt with his other possessions. "The fruit of the body
and the fruit of the cattle and the fruit of the ground"
simply, almost naturally, come together in the literature
of the time, whether in blessings or in curses. 24 The Jewish
father probably never possessed "the exclusive, absolute,
and perpetual" dominion over his children which was
peculiar to Roman law; yet he too could sell them, give
them away in discharge of a debt, and in the earliest time,
it would seem, even put them to death for reasons of his
own. 25 In the relations between father and child it is the
former's interests that are invariably considered: his love
or his hate; his joy or his mourning; his loss or his gain.
The idea that the child may have rights and interests of
his own, even when life and death are concerned, had not
yet dawned upon the mass of the people. A striking illus-
tration is furnished by one incident in the story of Joseph.
Reuben pleads with Jacob to entrust Benjamin to his
charge so that he may take him down to Egypt. To re-
assure his aged father he says to him : " Slay my two sons
if I bring him not to thee." 26 If he causes pain to Jacob
by depriving him of a valued possession, he is prepared to
have pain inflicted upon himself through being deprived
of similar valued possessions. The thought that either
Benjamin or the sons of Reuben may be entitled to have
a say in the matter does not apparently occur to anyone.
212 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
To understand the position more clearly it should be
remembered that the family as a whole, and not the in-
dividual human being, was regarded as the social and
religious unit. Within the family every member was re-
sponsible for every other, this responsibility extending be-
yond the confines of one generation. When Achan " com-
mitted a trespass in the devoted thing " the " Herem "
he brought destruction upon all his household; and the
sons of Saul had to give their lives to expiate their father's
guilt. 27 But the family was presided over by the father,
who wielded absolute power over all its members at least
until they were grown up. This smaller unit formed, in
its turn, part of a larger one, the tribe, or the people, where
again the members were responsible for one another " unto
the third and the fourth generation." In neither unit was
there room for the individual's freedom or his moral re-
sponsibility : he was swallowed up by the family or sub-
merged by the tribe.
It took many ages and the indomitable work of a re-
markable succession of men like Jeremiah and Ezekiel
before the citadel of primitive tribalism was shaken and the
idea of individual moral responsibility began to take hold
of the people's mind. How firmly rooted the ancient out-
look was even as late as the Captivity is evidenced by
Ezekiel's impetuous attacks. Again and again, in dealing
with this subject, he exclaims : " Yet you say, ' The way of
the Lord is not equal. 3 Hear now, O house of Israel, is not
my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?" Jeremiah's
plaintive musings about the established view have de-
veloped into a fierce conviction that it must be destroyed. 28
Even if we adopt the view, forcibly argued by Professor
Stevenson, 28a that the prophet thinks in terms of individual
generations rather than individual human beings, Ezekiel's
work was an essential stage in the development of the con-
ception of the free personality, one of the most valuable
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 313
contributions of Judaism to human civilisation. It paved
the way for such a book as Job, with its passionate protest
on behalf of the ordinary human being who is torn by
the conflict between faith in individual justice and ignor-
ance of its working. The solution of the conflict was there-
after sought along two different lines : on the one hand it
led the disillusioned few to the pessimistic egoism of
Ecclesiastes, who reached an almost complete negative in
his social and moral speculations; and on the other to the
belief in life after death, which became widely accepted by
the masses of the people. With this the conception of the
free, morally responsible human personality reached its
final stage and became the predominant element in Jewish
social thought. It found an almost perfect expression in
the well-known rabbinical saying: "He who saves one
human life it is accounted to him as if he has saved a
whole universe." 29 And this idea of the sacredness of life,
of its being an ultimate value given by God and not de-
pendent upon any external conditions, applied to the new-
born child as to the full-grown man. 30 Hence the remark-
able fact, which has not yet received its due recognition in
the history of education, that the child in the Jewish com-
munity achieved his human rights, the unquestioned right
to his own life, centuries earlier than in the Hellenistic
world, where exposing was not considered a capital crime
until the sixth century c.E. 31 This is all the more remark-
able when one remembers that in Palestine itself, during
the Roman period, abandonment of children was quite
common amongst the non-Jewish elements of the mixed
towns. 32 Only when the Jewish view of the sanctity of life
had, through the medium of Christianity, penetrated into
the wider world was the monster of infanticide in its
various ugly forms finally destroyed. 33
ai4 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The Greeks and the Jews differed fundamentally in their
political and social ideals, and, as a natural consequence of
that, also in their attitude to the child. It is more than a
mere coincidence that at about the same time when the
greatest thinker of classical Greece, Plato, formulated his
theory of the state which demanded the complete sub-
mergence of the individual, the nameless Jewish writer of
Job made the most fervent plea ever uttered on behalf of
this same individual. The Greek thinker, at least in theory,
knew of no distinction between conscience and public duty;
the man, to him, was lost in the citizen. And Hellenistic
education, in theory and in practice, sought the good of
the community, not the good of the individual. "The
state," Aristotle teaches us, "is by nature prior to the
family and to the individual, since the whole is of neces-
sity prior to the part." In the last analysis, as Professor
Zimmern rightly says, "the weakness of Greek political
speculation can be traced back to the weakness of Greek re-
ligion." 34 Among the Jews of post-exilic times the idea
of the state, even during the lifetime of the independent
monarchy, never rose to exclusive importance. There was
another factor religion, which steadily grew more power-
ful until, in the period following the Roman wars, it com-
pletely dominated Jewish life and thought. The child was
not devoted to the service of the state, but, in rabbinical
language, "consecrated to the Torah." In an education
system animated by such an aim individuality could never
be lost sight of. The individual human being was not
turned into raw material for the advancement of the
abstract idea of the state or the community.
To what extent the Jews have ever been a politically-
minded people cannot be fully discussed here. But one
suggestive fact may be mentioned. When in 63 B.C.E.
THE JEWISH ATTITUDE TO THE CHILD 215
deputations from the two brothers Hyrcanus and Aristo-
bulus waited upon Pompey in Damascus to decide between
their respective claims to the throne, there was also another
deputation there asking for the abolition of royalty and
the restoration of the old priestly constitution. These were
representatives of the Pharisees who renounced the claims
to political independence and would be satisfied with a
religious community. 35 That they represented a promi-
nent body of Jewish opinion is proved by the subsequent
course of Jewish history. After 135 C.E. those elements
formulated a new ideal of life, religious instead of political,
and saved the Jewish people from extinction. It is sig-
nificant that their opponents, the Sadducees, who were in-
fluenced by Hellenistic political theory, had no use for the
conception of life after death : the individual man had no
existence for them apart from the member of the state.
How the Jewish educationist in the Talmudic period
dealt with the problems of the relation of the individual
to the community has been discussed more fully in another
chapter. Here it is only necessary to say that he strove to
harmonise the claims of the two rather than to exalt the
one at the expense of the other. It may be true that whilst
the Greek theorist pitched the demands of the state too
high, the Jewish thinker sometimes pitched them too low;
yet he was always careful not to over-emphasise the value
of individuality. We may sum up his view by saying that
he denied perfection even to Moses, 36 whilst insisting at
the same time on the sanctity and uniqueness of the
The following from the Talmud is characteristic in this
connection. "Rav Shesheth (a scholar of the beginning
of the fourth century) used to revise his studies every
thirty days, after which he leaned against the handle of the
door and said, ( Rejoice, my soul; for thy good did I learn
the Bible; for thy good did I learn the Mishnah," The
ai6 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Talmud apparently feels the crudity of this extreme
individualism and asks, "But surely this is not right;
for did not Rabbi Eleazar say, * But for the Torah heaven
and earth would have no existence'?" that is, the aim
of study must be the benefit of the whole community.
To this the answer is given, "But at the beginning he
studied for his own sake " the community derived the
benefit automatically, 37 Four hundred years previously,
Hillel, one of the founders of rabbinical Judaism, formu-
lated his solution of the eternal problem in the well-known
saying: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am for myself alone, what am I?" 38 Translated
into modern language this amounts to saying that whilst
individuality is the fundamental fact of life, the individual
can achieve his self-realisation only in the social activities
of the community. This also is perhaps an imperfect solu-
tion, but a more satisfactory one is yet to come. Another
builder of rabbinical Judaism, a man who did not shrink
from the supreme sacrifice for a social ideal, expressed the
same thought in a significant statement : " Beloved is man,
created in the image of God; beloved are Israel who were
given charge of the Torah." But it will be noted that
"man" comes first. 39
THE CHILD AT HOME
I. Ben-SIra's views on the treatment of the child. The views
of Proverbs and other biblical books. 1 1. The new attitude in
the Talmud. Children's toys and games. The influence of re-
ligious ceremonial and symbolism. III. Yet the regime at
home was often of a stern nature. Frequent punishments.
Illustrations from rabbinical literature. Flogging as a " pre-
ventive " measure. Similar incidents among other peoples.
The relations between parents and children. " Fear " and
11 honour " of parents.
" He that loveth his son will continue to lay strokes upon him,
That he may rejoice over him at the last.
He that disciplineth his son shall have satisfaction of him,
And among his acquaintance glory in him.
# *> * * *
He that pampereth his son shall bind up his wounds 1
And his heart trembleth at every cry.
An unbroken horse becometh stubborn
And a son left at large becometh headstrong.
Cocker thy son and he will terrify thee;
Play with him and he will grieve thee.
Laugh not with him, lest he vex thee,
And make thee gnash thy teeth at the last.
Let him not have freedom in his youth,
And overlook not his mischievous acts.
Bow down his neck in his youth
And smite his loins sore while he is little,
Lest he become stubborn and rebel against thee.
* * * * *
Discipline thy son and make his yoke heavy,
Lest in his folly he stumble." 3
THIS is a good summary of the " wisdom of the ancients "
on the eternal problem of the child. A problem it cer-
218 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
tainly was, or the moralists would not have returned to it
again and again as they did. But the solution was
apparently everywhere the same; Athens, Rome, and Jeru-
salem showing a remarkable unanimity, apart from some
minor local differences. Ben-Sira has no new ideas on the
subject. The writer of Proverbs preached the same wis-
dom before him. Indeed, this may be said to be one of the
few " theories " on which the Bible shows absolute consist-
ency. " It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his
youth " thus the writer of Lamentations. 3 A father who
fails to put the yoke on his son has himself to thank for the
evil consequences to which this is bound to lead. Adonijah
rebelled against David because he was a pampered child
and "his father never displeased him saying, 'Why hast
thou done so?' " David, of course, was a " soft " father, as
witness his attitude to Absalom. So was Eli, who failed
to "restrain" his sons with disastrous consequences to
himself and his family. 4 The wise father, and one who
really loves his children, will not miss the lesson of these
historical incidents. He will suppress his own feelings and
show Ms children a stern face. He will demand from them
respect and strict obedience. 5 Children are often foolish
and recalcitrant. 6 Only the rod will keep them on the
right path. A good beating will not kill a boy. It will,
on the other hand, "drive out" his natural foolishness
and save his soul from hell. More than that, it will even
produce positive results : it will impart " wisdom." It is
true that a rebuke will sometimes be sufficient for the
sensible boy. But there are others whose foolishness " will
not depart even if you bray them in a mortar with a
pestle." The rod is the most hopeful means of correction,
whilst one can hardly rely on the effectiveness of mere
This may be said to be a fair representation of the views
of the average Jewish parent as they are reflected in such a
THE CHILD AT HOME 219
book as Proverbs, or Ben-Sira, which merely reiterates the
same thoughts in different words. The indirect hints we
get in other books of the Bible are entirely consistent with
these views. But there is hardly anything peculiarly
biblical or Jewish about these ideas on discipline. They
express the practical " psychology " of the man-in-the-street
throughout the ages and all over the world. "The rod
and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself
causeth shame to his mother," teaches us the author of
Proverbs. "A man unflogged is a man untrained," says
Menander, perhaps a little more crudely. 8 "A whip for
the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the back of
fools/ 7 says the writer of Proverbs sagely. Ben-Sira, as
often, merely repeats this thought in a different and less
effective style. "An unbroken horse becometh stubborn,
and a son left at large becometh headstrong." But it was
left to an Englishman of recent times to put this trite idea
in quite elegant verse : " Students, like horses on. the road,
must be well lash'd before they can take the load. They
may be willing for a time to run, but you must whip
them ere the work be done."
How much the Bible was responsible for the spread of
such ideas is a different question. That it had its influence
on the training of children, both among Jews and Chris-
tians, there can be little doubt. The world's childhood
owes a great many floggings to such a saying as : " He that
spareth the rod hateth his son." Epigrams of this kind
which are regarded as crystallising in verbal form the col-
lective social wisdom of past generations may play an im-
portant part in shaping men's reactions, especially when
they appear to give sanction to a natural impulse. 9 This
is what seems to have happened in our case: the biblical
epigram supplied a justification for the natural harsh
tendency in the training of children which was common
amongst all nations down to most recent times.
220 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Progress in the views on the nature of childhood has
been painfully slow among Jews as among other peoples
until almost our own days, when humanity seems to have
made a sudden leap forward. But progress there has heen
all the time, and it is a fascinating study to trace the
almost Imperceptible, halting steps by which the child has
advanced to his emancipation. A comparison of rabbinical
and biblical literature will reveal one of these steps.
The Talmud, as is to be expected from its size and the
wide range of the topics dealt with in its pages, affords us
much more abundant material than the Bible for the study
of our subject. But it is not the quantity that matters
although even this is not without its significance but the
unmistakably new attitude which we find there. A sug-
gestion of this change of attitude is already contained in
such a book as Tobit with its moving description of the
relations between father and son. It is even more strongly
felt in the atmosphere of the New Testament, where the
child is always approached with tenderness and sympathy.
But it is the Talmud with its abundance of detail that
enables us to see how this new attitude was translated into
practice. " A child," we are told by a rabbi of the second
century C.E., "is to be repelled with the left hand and
attracted with the right." 10 In this saying the child forms
one of a group of three. The other two are : the natural
instincts, which are not to be entirely suppressed but must
be allowed a certain amount of free play; and the woman,
who since the times of the Bible had gained in legal posi-
tion but lost in social status, and who was usually regarded
as a light-minded, irresponsible creature. 11
Now, that " right hand " was a new departure in the rela-
tions between the adult world and the child. In the Bible
the child is mostly loved, sometimes hated, seldom under-
THE CHILD AT HOME 221
stood. Methods of discipline are usually of a negative
kind : suppression and restraint by means of the rod. At
the best restraint takes the form of rebuke. In the Talmud
we meet for the first time with the effort to understand
the child, to awaken his interest, to win his active sym-
pathy. This was a concession wrung out by childhood,
ever-assertive and irrepressible, from the adult world.
The term by which the child is usually denoted in the
Talmud shows already the difference in attitude. The
somewhat prosaic biblical words for " child," " youth/' or
" son " have given place to the warmer and more intimate
" suckling " and " the little one." " Childhood," a Talmudic
teacher tells us, "is a crown of roses "; and another wistfully
adds : " Alas ! it goes never to return/' 12 We read of a con-
siderable variety of children's toys, of which there seems to
be no mention in the Bible, except, perhaps, in the matter
of dress. 13 Thus we find " the chair of the little one," the
"wooden horse," special helmets used by children when
playing at soldiers, and, of course, the ubiquitous
ball. This " new spirit " sometimes found its expression in
curious ways. We read, for instance, of a rabbi who
bought earthenware dishes for his children to play with
in order to satisfy their impulse for breaking things! 14
Fathers were even expected to take an active share in
their children's amusements, especially on the Sabbaths
and the festivals when they were free from work. We find
frequent references to the child riding on his father's
shoulders, which seems to have been a general practice.
We have even a case of a scholar who was discovered by
his colleagues, who came to consult him on some legal
matter, in the act of crawling on all fours to amuse his
children. 15 In more recent times, as has been shown
before, such behaviour on the part of a rabbi would have
been considered most unbecoming.
In order to attract the little ones to the Synagogue, bells
222 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
were attached to the wrappers of the scrolls of the Law.
Such bells were sometimes also fastened to a baby's cradle
in order to soothe it to sleep. 16 One legend tells us of a
pretty custom, which obtained at least in one place, to
plant a cedar at the birth of a boy and a cypress at the
birth of a girl. Later on when the children grew up and
were to be married planks were taken from these trees to
make the canopy for the wedding ceremony. 17
Children then, as at all times, were apt to indulge in
mischief, and the Talmud contains numerous indirect refer-
ences to their pranks and tricks. They play with sheep in
the field and mischievously tie their tails together remind-
ing us of the escapade of Samson; they tease cats and get
badly scratched so that a special leather cover for the chest
has to be devised for them. Sometimes they expose them-
selves to greater dangers : they fall into the sea, into pits,
go away far from town and are attacked by beasts of prey.
Once a special fast was proclaimed by the elders in Jeru-
salem because two children were devoured by wolves in
Trans-Jordania. Regular feasts were also held for the sake
of children who suffered from digestive ailments. 18 Little
gifts of dainties were distributed among children on various
occasions. These usually took the form of parched wheat,
honey, and especially nuts, on which, according to the
Talmud, children are very keen. At least in one case we
read of fish as a special prize for good behaviour! 19
But, in addition to such direct means, there was the in-
direct but infinitely more powerful influence exercised on
the child by the rich symbolism and ceremonial of re-
ligious life as it developed in the Talmudic period. The
Sabbath, the festivals and the fasts, with the wealth of
tradition that had grown around them even at that early
period; the Synagogue and the home ritual, all appealed
to the child's imagination, and in all the child was en-
couraged to play an active part. Much of this ritual, as,
THE CHILD AT HOME 223
for instance, the outstanding example of the Passover
night, was directly designed with this aim in view. These
were educational influences of a positive nature, of which
the Bible has hardly a glimpse. They were not based on
a clearly formulated theory of the place of interest in edu-
cation, but on a more intimate and sympathetic under-
standing of the nature of childhood.
It would, however, be rash to conclude from the pre-
ceding discussion that the Jewish child in Talmudic times,
any more than his Greek or Roman contemporary, was
allowed to lead a " soft " life. On the contrary, there is
sufficient evidence to show that the regime under which
children lived, both at home and at school, was often
of a stern nature. Using the Talmudic simile of the left
and right hands, one would be right in saying that the left,
as with some pugilists, was at times the heavier.
In commenting on the popular verse which has served
throughout the ages as the charter of the floggers, "He
who spares his rod, hateth his son/' the rabbis ask : " Is
there a man who hates his son?" The answer is that if
he forbears from chastising his son, he will encourage him
in his bad habits and will end by hating him. 20 It was an
accepted idea that a man must " put fear " into the hearts
of the members of his household, although he is warned
against overdoing it. How this domestic " f rightf ulness "
was practised we are shown by several examples of scholars
who went the length of throwing and breaking things I 21
Indulgence, especially in the matter of food, was strongly
discouraged, " because it leads to sin." A father is obliged
to maintain his children whilst they are young, but he
must not accustom them to such luxuries as meat and
wine. 22 Punishments were frequent and sometimes severe
224 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
in the extreme. In the course of a discussion on the duties
of a son the view is expressed that a child usually stands
in greater fear of his teacher than of his father. Various
recorded incidents seem to show, however, that in real life
this was not always the case.
"Once the son of Gorgias of Lydda ran away from
school and his father threatened him. The boy took
fright and committed suicide by throwing himself into a
well." It is interesting to compare this with the story of
the truant boy in the third mime of Herondas. There the
mother brings him to the teacher, who inflicts on him a
savage flogging. The Jewish father apparently stood in no
need of the teacher's help when he had to deal with such
Another story, found in the same place, is no less sig-
nificant. "Once a child in Bene-Berak broke a glass on
the Sabbath (thus being guilty of the desecration of the
holy day), and his father threatened him. So the boy took
fright and threw himself into a well." 23 These were ob-
viously exceptional cases of highly-strung or neurotic chil-
dren, but they throw some light on the nature of the home
discipline to which the child was subjected. On the basis
of these facts the following rule is formulated for the
guidance of parents and teachers : " One must not threaten
a child, but either punish him at once, or pass the offence
over in silence and say nothing." 24 The modern teacher
would express his full agreement with this rule.
These incidents belong to an early period. But there are
numerous indirect references in later literature to floggings
inflicted by a father upon his son. " The flogging father "
is, in fact, quite a standing phrase. From repeated warn-
ings against it one is entitled to infer that even grown-up
sons were not immune from corporal punishment. 25
The infliction of punishment was not, however, the pre-
rogative of the father alone. We hear occasionally also of
THE CHILD AT HOME 225
mothers who performed that duty. 26 But it was generally
recognised that a "boy fears his father more than his
mother." The reason is rather significant: "because his
father teaches him the Torah." 27 Evidently learning the
Torah was not always a pleasurable activity. This is con-
firmed in another place where we are told that when a
man teaches his son the Torah, he should teach him with
sternness. A rule going back to the second century C.E.
makes a distinction in this respect between junior and
senior children, if we are to use the modern terminology.
" Up till twelve years a man should deal leniently with his
son; after that age he should adopt stern measures," if he
is unwilling to learn. 28
According to one opinion, a father who killed his son in
the process of chastisement was not to be held responsible
for his action, as he merely fulfilled his duty of directing
him in the right way. The same law applied to the teacher
also. In a discussion on this point a scholar of the fourth
century C.E. gives it as his view that even if the boy is a
willing student it is still the father's and presumably also
the teacher's duty to chastise him, evidently as a pre-
ventive measure! 29 This, as is seen from the context, is
merely a debating point. But it is strongly reminiscent of
the story of the Christian saint who, whilst a boy, was
punished by his teacher every morning. The idea was
that, although the boy had not deserved the punishment
yet, he was sure to deserve it some time; the chastisement
was therefore merely in the nature of payment in advance.
It is only fair to the ancients to say that there were
teachers many centuries later who quite independently con-
ceived the idea of flogging not as a punishment for an
offence, nor as a means of reform, but as an end in itself.
Erasmus was flogged on this principle. His master, with
whom he was a favourite, flogged him just to see how he
could bear the pain. Of the same master it is said that
226 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
whenever he dined in his school, one or two boys were
served up to be flogged by way of dessert. A meek, gentle
boy was flogged by him on one o these occasions for some
pretended fault till the victim was fainting under the
scourge, "not that he deserved this/' said the master to
Erasmus, "but it was fit to humble him." Yet this
teacher was said to have been a good man who delighted
in children. 30 From the latter part of the nineteenth
century we have a story by a well-known Jewish humorist,
whose teacher also struck the idea of "payment in advance"
and made it a rule to flog his pupil every morning.
The picture of the relations of parents and children in
Talmudic times would not be complete without the follow-
ing extracts. These should not, however, be taken as
descriptive of real conditions, but rather as a striving after
"There are three partners in man: the Holy One,
blessed be He; the father; and the mother. When a man
honours his father and his mother, the Holy One, blessed
be He, says : ' I consider it as if I had lived amongst them
and the honour was done to Myself.' "
In commenting upon the biblical verses which enjoin
the fear and the honour of parents, the rabbis ask : " What
is 'fear' and what is 'honour'? 'Fear' means that one
must not stand or sit in the place which is usually the
father's; nor must one contradict him, or even induce him
to reach a decision when he is in doubt; ' honour ' means that
the father is to be provided with food and drink, clothing
and bed-coverings, and to be led in and out of the house." 31
Many stories are told by the rabbis of the manner in
which certain outstanding people treated their parents.
Some of these are quite obviously of a legendary nature,
but the following two are not without interest. Rabbi
Tarphon, a famous teacher of the early second century, had
an old mother. Whenever she wanted to go up to bed, he
THE CHILD AT HOME 227
bent down so that she might step on him. The same he
did when she had to come down from bed. When he came
to the Synagogue and boasted about it, he was told : " You
have not done even half of what is necessary for the fulfil-
ment of the commandment to honour parents." Rab
Joseph, a blind scholar of the end of the third and begin-
ning of the fourth centuries, when he heard his mother's
footsteps, used to say: "Let me rise before the divine
presence that is about to enter." And it should be remem-
bered that the mother usually took the second place. 32
THE RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CHILD
I. Religion was co-extensive with life. The child's first years
at home. " Outward " signs. Symbols designed to arouse the
child's curiosity. II. The festivals. The Sabbath Pentecost
New Year the Day of Atonement Tabernacles Passover.
III. The school and the Synagogue. The community's interest
in the boy's education. " Tell me your verse."
THE Jewish child of the Talmudic age was gradually accus-
tomed to all those practices and observances which were
obligatory upon the adult. 1 This applied to the home and
the school as well as to the Synagogue. The sharp dis-
tinction between the religious and the secular, which often
renders futile the best efforts of the modern teacher of
religion, was not known then. Religion was not confined
to certain hours and to certain places; and nothing would
have been stranger to the minds of those people than special
lessons devoted to it. It was co-extensive with life and
controlled every action of man.
From birth the child grew up in this intense religious
atmosphere which pervaded the home no less than the
Synagogue. As soon as he began to crawl about he could
not fail to notice the symbolic sign on the doorpost, about
which he would presently ask his eager questions. This
was only the beginning of an extraordinarily elaborate
system of symbolism which would gradually unfold itself
before him, making an ever stronger appeal to his native
curiosity. Most of these symbols, although he did not
know it, were specially designed with a view to arous-
RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CHILD 229
ing his interest and eliciting his questions. Perhaps on
Ms first venturing outside, in the courtyard, he would
come across other signs, in connection with some sab-
batical regulations, which were kept alive only for his
Soon he would be taken to the Synagogue. That would
be before his school career had begun. 3 There he would
have innumerable questions to ask about the curious things
which he saw for the first time : the pulpit, the ark, the
scrolls, the bells on the wrappers of these, which ring when-
ever they are raised again for his benefit. 4
But his most vivid impressions would be associated with
the festivals and fasts, of which every one made its peculiar
appeal to his imagination, and in most of which there was
a special part reserved for him.
There was first of all the weekly day of rest and peace
the Sabbath, with the changed appearance of the house,
with the different clothes and special meals, with the lights
and the cup of wine for " sanctification." Even if his father
were very poor he would contrive to obtain at least that. 5
His father might perhaps tell him something from the
story of the Creation, which he had probably heard already
many times, but still loved to hear again; also some of the
legendary tales connected with the holy day/ 6
Besides such festivals as Pentecost, the main interest of
which consisted in the story connected with it, there
were others offering him opportunities for a more active
part. There was the New Year with its air of solemnity,
relieved perhaps by the " blowing of the horn." If con-
sidered clever enough, he would himself get a chance of
trying it, or even of practising it. 7 Then there came the
"Day of Atonement/' He was not expected to fast the
230 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
whole day; but he would show his manliness by waiting as
long as possible for his first meal. 8
With the feeling of pride which this manly deed had
aroused in him still fresh, he entered upon the prepara-
tions for the great festival of Tabernacles, with the building
of the booth, in which he would strive to do more than his
share. His father would tell him the story of the wander-
ings in the wilderness. He would even allow him to handle
the citron and shake the " palm branch " as the grown-ups
were doing. 9
But best of all he loved the festival of Passover, to
which he had been looking forward during the whole
winter. There was a complete change in the house for a
whole week; different dishes, different food, and a wealth
of signs and symbols every one connected with a fascinating
story. In the elaborate ceremonial of the first evening he
was the chief actor and all the arrangements were made
for his sake. All sorts of expedients would be employed to
arouse his interest and to make him ask questions. And,
in answer, his father would tell the story of the miraculous
departure from Egypt a story which he had heard so
many times but could not grow tired of. He would cer-
tainly try to ask clever and unexpected questions and not be
like other boys who had to be taught by their fathers what
to ask. 10
Meantime his school life had begun. Early in the morn-
ing his mother 11 would take him to school, which was in the
Synagogue. There he would spend the whole day. He would
see the services of the grown-ups, who were saying the same
prayers that he was learning from his teacher, and he would
feel that he was learning something of real value. He
would soon begin the Pentateuch, and, if clever enough,
would be given a chance, during the Synagogue service on
RELIGIOUS AND SOCIAL LIFE OF THE CHILD 231
the Sabbath, of reading the Scripture lesson which he had
studied the whole week. His father and his teacher would
be present, 12 and perhaps also his mother looking on
from the women's part of the Synagogue.
Sometimes people came into the Synagogue and asked
him the verse he had memorised that day. 13 More often
that would happen when he would be on his way home
from school after a very long and hard day's work. Yet
he was glad of the opportunity to say " his verse/' For
he would soon learn that people did not do it merely
In order to test his knowledge, but for a more serious pur-
pose: to decide their own affairs, sometimes of a rather
important nature, according to the meaning of the verse.
They would treat his verse as a prophecy. 14 It might very
well happen that the great rabbi himself, who was the head
of the whole community, and to whom everybody paid
such great respect, would meet him, ask him for his verse,
and perhaps commend him for the manner in which he
had acquitted himself. 15
After such a meeting he would feel rather proud and
well satisfied with his day's work, which, though long and
hard, was never dull or entirely devoid of adventure.
NOTE ON CHAPTER V
THERE are a number of well-known Talmudic texts which
apparently conflict with the conclusions reached in this
chapter as regards the venue of the elementary school as
well as its historical development in general. These texts
are of a legendary character and can hardly be treated as
historical documents, except for one which is of a more
serious nature. The former will be dealt with first.
Sabbath, 310. "Again it happened that a certain non-
Jew passed behind a ' house of study ' * Beth Hamidrash '
and heard the voice of a teacher ' sopher ' who said,
* And these are the garments which they shall make ' (for
the high priest, Exod. xxviii. 4). So he came to Shammai
and said to him, * Convert me to Judaism on condition that
you make me high priest/" etc. Rashi explains that
" sopher " means an elementary teacher.
If taken at its face-value, it would prove that in the time
of Shammai and Hillel, that is in the first century B.C.E.,
children were taught in the " Beth-Hamidrash " a term
which really means not the elementary school but the high
school. But this story belongs to a cycle of legends about
Hillel and clearly has no historic value.
Taanith, 236. A long and rather interesting story about
the grandson of Honi Hameaggel, first century B.C.E. To
the question why he gave one piece of bread to his older
son and two to the younger, he answered, " The older stays
at home and the younger in the Synagogue." Here, too,
Rashi explains: "Before the teacher, and does not come
home all day." This again belongs to a series of legends
236 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
about Honi, a favourite subject for all kinds of fanciful
tales. It reflects the conditions of a much later age.
Gittin, 58^. " There were 400 synagogues in the town of
Bethar (the fortress where Bar-Kochba made his last stand;
fell about 135 C.E.). In every one of these there were 400
elementary teachers; every one of those had before him 400
pupils," etc. Although the tradition is reported in the
name of Simon ben Gamaliel, second century C.E., it is on
the face of it too fantastic to be treated seriously. It must
have originated much later when the Synagogue was
already the communal centre and the usual home of the
school. It is rather interesting to compare this with the
Greek story about the murder of school-children by
Thracian mercenaries, quoted by Mahaffy ("Old Greek
A more serious objection to the writer's views on the
relation of the Synagogue and the school may be raised on
the strength of an early but somewhat obscure Mishnah
on Sabbath. It states as follows: "Verily, they said, the
hazzan ' may look on where the children read on Friday
evening, but he may not read himself " f or fear of inad-
vertently adjusting the candle. Rashi gives two alternative
explanations of the meaning of " hazzan/' According to
the first, he is the Synagogue official in charge of the
liturgical readings from the Bible, who looks on at the
children reading in the Synagogue on Friday evening so as
to make sure which lesson from the Scriptures is to be read
during the service on the following day. According to the
other explanation, the " hazzan " is the teacher who looks
up the lesson his pupils are to do on the morrow, Maimon-
ides and others explain the passage in a somewhat similar
manner. The views of the modern writers may be
summed up in the words of A. R. S. Kennedy, in " Hastings'
Dictionary of the Bible " : " By all writers on Jewish educa-
tion it is stated that the Synagogue officer . . . was the
APPENDIX I 237
teacher of the Synagogue school. This uniform tradition
seems founded on a precept regarding Sabbath observance
in the Mishnah . . . where even on the sacred day the
'hazzan* is allowed to look on where the children are
reading, but he may not read himself/' He then goes on
to make a distinction between two kinds of " hazzan/' one
a Synagogue official, the other a teacher.
Now if this were correct it would afford strong proof
that in the early Mishnaic period the school was already
very intimately associated with the Synagogue, where it
was usually housed. It is necessary first of all to point out
that the " uniform tradition " of which Dr. Kennedy speaks
rests on a very flimsy foundation this solitary and obscure
passage. Nowhere else in the Talmud, although the word
occurs frequently, does "hazzan" denote a teacher. It
usually means either the Synagogue official or the executive
officer attached to the court of justice. The name for a
teacher was in the earlier period " sopher," or " melamed
tinokoth," these terms later on changing to their Aramaic
equivalents. The truth would seem to be that the Mishnah
does not speak of an actual lesson taking place in the
Synagogue on Friday evening. Surely it would be an
extraordinary sort of lesson with the pupils reading and
the teacher forbidden to do so ! All that the passage says
is that the " hazzan " who is in charge of the Synagogue
service may look up the scroll on a Friday evening to ascer-
tain the portions of the Bible studied by the children in
their teacher's home that week, so that he may arrange the
liturgical readings accordingly. He may do only that, but
is not allowed to read.
On the other hand, in a somewhat similar passage a few
pages later we read that school-children used to arrange the
portions of the Bible and read by the light of a candle on
Friday evening. But here it is not simply " children," but
" children of their teacher's house" "tinokoth shel beth
238 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
rabban." The significance of this expression, which in
later times came to be applied to all school-children, should
not be lost. It shows clearly that in the early stages of its
growth the school was not held in the Synagogue, but in
the teacher's house. (See also Tosephta, edition Schwarz,
Sabbath, chapter i.)
The question why the school is not mentioned before the
New Testament, and even there only once, is not, therefore,
due to the fact " that the school was so intimately associ-
ated with the Synagogue that in ordinary speech the two
were not distinguished " (G. H. B. in " Cheyne's Diet.
of the Bib." art. Educ.). The explanation is simpler. It is
that the school at that early period was a private institu-
tion in the initial stage of its growth, and as yet of little
prominence in the people's life. Its real growth began
some time in the second century C.E. It did not become
identified with the Synagogue until after the Mishnaic
period that is, after 200 C.E.
NOTES ON CHAPTER VH
THE CURRICULUM OF THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN THE
i. The folio wing observations may help us to gain a
clearer idea of this subject of which little has so far been
done in the way of systematic study. The term " Talmudic
period" is very wide and is sometimes used by writers in
a rather indefinite manner. At its full extent, as it is in-
tended to be understood here, it covered almost a thousand
years from the early scribes down to the completion of
the Talmud in the sixth century C.E. It embraced the
Persian, Greek, and Roman periods of Jewish history, with
all the social, political, and religious movements associated
with them. It saw the rise of the political state in the
Hasmonean period and its final downfall in 135 CJE. Dur-
ing the whole of this long period the Jewish people was
subjected to spiritual influences from the outside which
deeply affected its whole outlook on life.
Again, from the beginning of the third century C.E. we
have to deal with two separate communities the Baby-
lonian and the Palestinian. From that time the former
began to play an increasingly important part in Jewish life
until it became the spiritual centre for the whole of Jewry.
It is obvious that education, if it was to perform any
useful social function, had to adapt itself continually to the
changing conditions of life. And this adaptation, or de-
velopment, would, first of all, be reflected in the curri-
culum, in the scope as well as the type of study which
would be considered a desirable education.
240 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
The Jewish school retained its fundamentally religious
character throughout the ages. For Jewish social and
communal life, after the fall of the state, found its expres-
sion in religious activity, and the Synagogue became " the
people's house." But religion itself was continually develop-
ing as a result of changing external and internal conditions.
The education of a Jewish child in the Persian period was
a very different thing, in its scope and its nature, from the
religious instruction a follower of the Pharisees would give
his son in Roman times. Almost as great a difference
would be found between the time of Herod, for instance,
and the fourth or fifth century in some Jewish community
in Babylonia. Thus, for example, what Ben-Sira, strongly
under the influence of Hellenistic philosophy, would regard
as a good education for a youth, would be rejected by a
man like Hillel. Nor could Ben-Sira have ever dreamt that
a time would come when his own book would be included
by authoritative opinion among forbidden literature.
One illustration will serve to show how this continuous
development affected the elementary school.
One of the most important subjects, in the school of the
later Talmudic period particularly, was the liturgy
prayers and benedictions. This must have claimed a large
part of the time and energy of both teachers and pupils.
It was all the more difficult because it was as yet in a fluid
state and had, in addition, to be taught by heart. Teachers
were expected to have an expert knowledge of the subject,
and sometimes even well-known rabbis could not hold their
own against them.
But this subject was hardly even in existence during the
time of the early scribes in the Persian Age. And this
would be true, although not always to the same extent, of
many of the other subjects of study in the Jewish school.
2. There is another matter which requires to be cleared
APPENDIX H a 4 i
up before we can undertake a profitable study of our
A considerable portion of the material at our disposal
consists of rabbinical sayings or reflections on education.
Now these cannot always be taken as a record of existing
conditions, or as regulations intended for immediate en-
forcement. Often they represent the aspirations of intel-
lectual leaders, "pious wishes" which could scarcely be
translated into practice. Sometimes indeed they are in the
nature of aims and ideals. But here again their main value
is in showing us what education still lacked, rather than
what it had already achieved. For, as Dewey well reminds
us, we do not usually emphasise things which do not re-
quire emphasis. We tend rather to frame our aims on the
basis of the defects and the needs of the contemporary
situation. A critical examination of these sayings in the
light of the known conditions of the time is therefore an
essential requirement for a proper appreciation of their
value. But writers on the subject have not always paid
sufficient attention to this requirement, and so we some-
times get a description of an ideal education system which
has little relation to historic reality.
One or two examples will suffice to illustrate the fore-
Rabbi Akiba, the well-known spiritual leader of the
early second century C.E., says : " When thou teachest
thy son teach him in a well-corrected book." Now this
is clearly in the nature of an advice, and all that can
legitimately be inferred from it is that children in those
times had to put up with all sorts of unreliable texts
which, in view of the scarcity and costliness of books, was
inevitable. This, indeed, is confirmed by the Talmud it-
self, which finds it necessary to explain that the saying
applies only to " a new lesson " an eloquent testimony to
the existing situation! Yet we find a writer stating on the
2 4 2 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
basis of this saying by Rabbi Akiba that according to the
Talmud " textbooks must be without error/' (Jew Encyc.,
The following is even more curious as an example of un-
critical method. Rav, the famous founder of the Academy
of Sura in the early third century C.E V is reported in the
Talmud to have said to an elementary schoolmaster as fol-
lows : " When you beat a child, beat him only with a shoe-
strap." This quite clearly represents the individual view
of an educational reformer who endeavoured to introduce
what he considered to be a desirable method of discipline.
One would be justified to conclude from this that in prac-
tice teachers were in the habit of using on their pupils some-
thing much more formidable than a shoe-strap. Nor would
there be any difficulty in proving such a conclusion from
Talmudic evidence, which all goes to show that Rav's well-
meant advice remained merely a pious aspiration. Never-
theless, one modern writer considers it a sufficient basis for
his statement that " only in cases of persistent inattention
might the teacher inflict punishment by means of a strap
of reeds" (ibid.)
As a final illustration we may quote the following from a
modern book on education in ancient Israel. "... The
ordinance of Gamala " the high priest who, according to
a solitary tradition, was responsible for the introduction of
elementary education in Palestine "required the com-
munity to provide one teacher for twenty-five pupils or less;
for any number over twenty-five and less than fifty, one
teacher and one assistant; for fifty pupils, two teachers and
two classes." (K H. Swift, " Educat. in Ancient Israel," 95.)
Now for this statement, which credits Gamala with the
introduction of such an elaborate and well-regulated system
of organisation in Palestine of the first century C.E., there is
absolutely no evidence from any source except the report
of an attempted reform of this nature by a scholar who
APPENDIX II 243
lived three hundred years later in Babylonia! The im-
provements which the latter endeavoured to introduce in
the fourth century are treated as if they had already been
put in force in the first century.
Examples of a similar kind could be greatly multiplied;
and, as will be seen from the chapters dealing with the
subject, the study of the curriculum suffered greatly from
these uncritical methods.
To sum up: in dealing with any Talmudic text and
most of our material must be drawn from this source it
is necessary first of all to try and determine the period to
which it belongs, frequently a matter of great difficulty.
After that it must be examined in the light of the known
conditions of that time. This method has been followed
throughout in our study of the history of the early Jewish
1 P. Monroe, " A Text-book In the History of Education," New
2 E. P. Cubberley, " The History of Education " and " Read-
ings in the History of Education," Boston, 1920.
3 William Boyd, " The History of Western Education/' London,
I The school is mentioned only once in the New Testament,
Acts 19. 9, where the reference is to a Greek school.
- Baba Bathra 2O&, 2ia.
3 Deuteronomy 6. 7, n. 19.
4 Exodus 13. 8, 14.
5 See, for instance, Exodus 10. 2 ; Joshua 4. 6, 22. 24 ; i Kings
9. 6 ; Jeremiah 32. 39 ; Psalms 78. 5, 6 ; and elsewhere.
6 See Bereshith Rabbah 84. 8; Berakhoth 40.; Sanhedrin 19 b.
7 Deuteronomy 12. 12, 18, 16. n, 31. 12; i Samuel i. i; Jere-
miah 9. 19.
8 Jeremiah 7. 18.
9 2 Kings 17. 28; Ezekiel 22. 26; Haggai 2. n ff. ; Zechariah
10 See, for example, Jeremiah 18. 18; Ezekiel 7. 26, 22. 26, 28;
Micah 3. ii ; and many more.
II nut" Genesis 18. 19; Joshua i. 7; "lilTn," "imn"
Exodus 18. 16, 20; "min" Exodus 24. 12; Leviticus 10. n;
Deuteronomy 17. 10, n, 24. 8; i Samuel 12. 23; i Kings 8. 36;
a Kings 17. 28; and many more. " min " should be understood in
the sense of giving practical guidance in concrete cases; compare
the Talmudic " nfcnin miD." Only in modern Hebrew has " H11D "
become the common word for " teacher " instead of the former
" more frequently in Deuteronomy (17 times) than in
any other book of the Bible, except the Psalms (13 times in
Psalm 119). Also fairly often in Jeremiah (14 times).
w R. T. Hereford, " The Pharisees/* p. 26.
14 Note in this connection Ezekiel 8. i, 14. i, 20. i. We may see
in these assemblies in the prophet's house an example of the meet-
ings for instruction and prayer which gradually developed into the
synagogue. But see Professor Zeitlin, Proc. American Academy
/or Jewish Research, 1931, p. 69, " The Origin of the Synagogue,"
248 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
For the synagogue as a place of instruction, see Schuerer, " A His-
tory of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ/' New Series,
vol. 24, 53-55.
15 Sopherim 18. 6; Aboth derabbi Nathan 18; Hagigah, 3*1.
" JUD " Ezra, 8. 16; i Chronicles 25. 8; 2 Chronicles 35. 3.
" Daniel n. 33, 12. 3; 2 Chronicles 30. 22.
(common word for " teacher ") Psalms 94. 10, 119. 99.
(universally accepted word for " pupil ") i Chronicles 25. 8.
17 2 Chronicles 17. 7 Jf. ; Nehemiah 8. 8.
18 76-67 B.C.E. But Ben-Sira already mentions the '* Beth-mid-
rash " apparently a private ** academy " for youth.
19 i Maccabees i. 14; 2 Maccabees 4. 9, 12.
20 Shevuoth sa.
1 " Legatio ad Caium," 16, 31; " Apion," i. 12. See also
"Ant," IV.-VIII. 12.
2 Cubberley, op. cit., 59.
3 Philo was, of course, not a Palestinian, but an Alexandrian
4 The term " Torah " here, as frequently elsewhere in rab-
binical literature, does not mean just " the law " as it is so often
translated. It covers the whole body of laws and traditions of
5 The phrase in Deuteronomy n. 19, "Dfitf DmD?}" was read :
" DfliXDflTDSl" instead of " D1JK-" Such methods of interpretation
are common in the Talmud.
* Isaiah 2. 3.
7 Baba Bathra 21 a.
8 The Hebrew word for children used in both passages, *' Tino-
koth," covers a wide age range, and is applied in Talmudic litera-
ture to little children as well as to young men like the word
" Naar " in the Bible. An interesting example will be found in
9 Yehudah, who died 299 C.E., and his teacher Rav, d. 247 c.E.
10 " Hazzan," a kind of beadle and reader combined in the
synagogue of those days.
11 ** Historiyyah Yisreelith," vol. 3, 149; Jerusalem, 1923.
12 See, for instance, Jewish En cyclop., article on " Pedagogics " ;
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, " Education " ; Cheyene's Encyc.
Bib., " Education "; F. H. Swift, " Education in Ancient Israel,"
p. 92; Monroe's Cyclop, of Education, article on " Jewish Educa-
tion"; "A History of the Jewish People," Margolis and Marx,
Philadelphia, 1921, p. 211.
13 On Spartan education, see Boyd, op. tit*, 11-16; K. J. Free-
man, " Schools of Hellas," chap, on Spartan education; Monroe,
f - Text-book," 70-79; " Source-book," passage from Plutarch.
14 It Is Interesting that a scholar of the third century C.E. was
rather shocked when he heard his son repeat those blessings and
told him to change the last one to : " Who has not made me a
15 Berakhoth 47!?.
16 Pesahim 1120..
17 Kiddushin 290 ; Rabbi Eleazar, Bekhoroth 33^ ; Abaye, Kid-
dushin 486 ; Judah, the Prince, Abodah Zarah 52 b ; Joshua ben
Levi, Horayoth 8a; Hiyya ben Abba, Kiddushin 3oa; see also the
interesting passage in Aboth der. Nathan 8. 6.
18 Kiddushin 310; Aboth 4. 6; Sanhedrin 19!?, 996.
19 Sanhedrin 176; Sabbath 119??.
20 Kethuboth 103?? ; Baba Mezi'a 856.
31 Aboth 4. 25; Aboth der. Nathan 23.
I References are numerous. See, for instance, Genesis 31. 15,
34; Exodus 21. 7, 22. 15, 16; Deuteronomy 22. 29; Leviticus 19. 29.
3 Leviticus 27. i ff.
3 Compare also Genesis 19. 8.
4 i Samuel 25. 41.
fi Deuteronomy 5. 21 ; Exodus 20. 17.
6 Jeremiah 6. 12, 8. 10.
7 See, for instance, Deuteronomy 22. 13 ; Jeremiah 27. 6. This
is the usual expression. Deuteronomy 24. i, 3 ; Jeremiah 3. i.
* Exodus 20. 12; Deuteronomy 5. 16; Leviticus 19. 3; on the
latter see Kiddushin 30.
9 The queen-mother is usually mentioned by name in the stories
of the Kings of Judah.
10 Deborah, Hannah, Bath-sheba, Hulda and numerous others.
II Exodus 15. 21 ; Judges 5. ; i Samuel 2. i ff.
la Song of Songs 8. 6, 7.
13 Ezekiel 24. i6ff.
14 Malachi 2. 14 f.
15 Isaiah 50. i ; Jeremiah 2. 2, 3. i f . Note the symbolical inter-
pretation of the Song of Songs in later ages.
w 2 Maccabees 7. ; 4 Maccabees 8. 16.
ir In the Christian Gospels women occupy a prominent position.
This will be referred to later,
Deuteronomy 12. 12; Jeremiah 9. 19, 7. 18; Proverbs i. 8;
see also Joel 3. i.
250 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
19 Ecclesiastes 7. 26, 28; but see Barton, " International Critical
Commentary," whose interpretation can hardly be reconciled with
20 See "Hellenistic Greeks," Mahaffy and Goligher, London,
1928, p. 5.
21 See " Short History of Women," John Langdon-Davies,
London, 1928, pp. 150, 157.
32 " Euripides and His Age," Gilbert Murray, p. 33 ; " The Greek
Commonwealth," Alfred Zimmern, Oxford, 1924, p. 334; " The
Greek Point of View," M. Hutton, p. 19.
23 Ethics of the Fathers i. 5 ; Berakhoth 24*1.
24 Baba Bathra 120..
25 Sukkah 38^; Menahoth 43 Z> ; G. H. Weiss, " Dor Dor Vedore-
shav," vol. 2, 29.
28 Sotah 2oa.
27 Kiddushin 29. 30; Sotah, ibid. ; Yerushalmi, Sabbath, 6 i.
28 Yoma 866 ; Kethuboth 59??.
29 Niddah 45^, 486; Menahoth noa.
30 Sabbath 33^ ; Kiddushin, ibid. ; Sotah, ibid, ; Erubin 271* ; see
also Maimonides, " Yad," " Talmud Torah," i. i, 13 ; and Joseph.,
" Ant.," IV-VIII. 15.
31 Sabbath 1500.
32 Nazir 29^; Kiddushin, Sotah, ibid.
33 Berakhoth vja.
34 Sotah 22a; Abodah Zarah 38*7.
35 Yevamoth ioo&, 107-109 ; Niddah 45a ; and elsewhere.
36 Niddah 316 ; Baba Bathra i6b.
3r For girls' education in Athens, see Freeman, " Schools of
Hellas," 46-48; Monroe, *' Source Book," 36-39.
38 i Timothy 2. 12; i Corinthians 14. 34, 35.
39 See " Woman : Her Position and Influence in Ancient Greece
and Rome, and among the Early Christians," James Donaldson,
London, 1907, p. 182 ; " The Literary History of Early Christi-
anity," Ch. T. Cruttwell, London, 1893, pp. 586-87.
40 Among rabbinical sayings with a strong suggestion of the
cynical and contemptuous attitude to the woman the following
may be mentioned : Bereshith Rabbah 17, 18, 45 ; Kiddushin 49^ ;
Nedarim 2ob; Sopherim 15. Numerous passages, scattered through-
out rabbinical literature, show us the other side of the picture
a humane, sympathetic and even respectful view of the woman as
wife. The following may be noted : Yevamoth 62?? ; Gittin 9oa ;
Sanhedrin 220, where we are told that " a man whose first wife
has died it is as if the Holy Temple were destroyed in his time " ;
and again : ' ' For every loss there is a compensation except for the
death of a wife of one's youthful days,"
1 See note 13 in Chapter II.
2 For a description of the Hellenistic cities in Palestine see A.
Cherikover, " The Jews and the Greeks in the Hellenistic Period "
(Hebrew, Tel-Aviv, 1930), pp. 129-161.
3 How large the Jewish population of some of these towns was
may be inferred from Josephus, " Wars," 2. 18.
4 Klausner, op. cit., vol. 3, chap. ii. See also Pesikta 101, where
even the Greek word for school " Ascola " is found. This, how-
ever, as far as the writer is aware, is never applied in Talmudic
literature to the Jewish school.
5 Aboda Zara 156.
* William Boyd, op. cit., pp. 64-65.
T Nehemiah 8. 8. The question of the origin of the " disputa-
tional " method will be referred to later.
* Thus, for instance, Gudemann, article " Education " in Jew.
Encyc. ; F. H. Swift, " Education in Ancient Israel " ; Klausner,
op. tit. ; the writer on Jew. Educ. in Cyclop, and Diction, of
Educat. ; and many others.
9 Baba Bathra 2ia.
10 Kiddushin 820.
11 Baba Bathra 21.
13 Taanith 240.
18 Baba Bathra, ibid.
14 Nedarim 37^; Bekhoroth 29^.
15 Compare the attack of Socrates on teachers who attract pupils
by low fees and big promises.
18 This was also the practice in Rome according to the law in-
stituted by Constantine.
17 " Talmud Torah " i. 9; commentary on the Mishnah,
Nedarim. 350-; and on Aboth 4. 7.
18 From Bekhoroth 29x1 and Aboth der. Nathan 17, it would
seem, however, that it was not entirely uncommon to charge fees
for the teaching of the " Oral Law."
" Or for teaching the intonation, Nedarim 37^.
30 Bezah i6a.
21 Baba Bathra, ibid. see also Makkoth i6& about the teacher
who was removed for harshness towards his pupils; this incident
is repeated three times in the Talmud.
33 K. J. Freeman, op. tit., 58, 88-89.
33 For a description of the organisation of the Jewish elementary
school in more modern times, see the essay by A. M. Lipshitz,
252 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
1 Sh. Zuri, ** Hamishpat Haziburi," Paris, 1931, 244.
2 The Mishnah was compiled by Judah the Prince, 200 c.E.
3 Berakhoth iya. Rav died 247 C.E.
4 Baba Bathra 2ia. Raba died 352 C.E.
5 Megillah 28b. Rav Ashi died 427 C.E.
6 Gittin 66a.
7 tf IBDfl TV V the " House of the Book "-that is, the Bible.
But it may also mean " the house where children are instructed in
letters," or literacy. This meaning of ""IDD," already found in
Daniel and in an early Talmudic text, shows traces of Greek
influence. This point will be referred to later.
* Baba Kama 1146; "Rabbi" refers to Judah the Prince,
compiler of the Mishnah, d. 220 C.E. " Priests' portion " =
9 Semahoth 2. 4. Rabbi Tarphon was a contemporary of Rabbi
Akiba, early second century C.E.
10 Sukkah 290-. Rabbi Meir was a disciple of Rabbi Akiba.
11 Baba Bathra, ibid,
12 J. P. Mahaffy, " Old Greek Education," 49.
13 Ezekiel n. 16; Sabbath 320.; Megillah 29^.
14 Pesahim ioia; see Zuri, op. cit., 241 ff.
15 Megillah 2ia. Rabban Gamaliel end of first, beginning of
second century C.E.
16 Sanhedrin 370.
17 Aboth der. Nathan 6.
18 Megillah, ibid.
19 Kethuboth ma.
20 Canticles Rabbah 6. 17.
31 Megillah, ibid.
33 Aboth der. Nathan 8.
33 Sotah i7& ; Mikvaoth i. 10 ; and many other places.
24 Gittin 58a.
35 See chapter on Discipline.
36 Mahaffy, ibid.; Freeman, op. cit., 83-4; on the manner of
sitting see also Acts 22. 3, which compare with Aboth i. 4.
37 Monroe, " Source Book," 32; Mahaffy, op. cit., 38.
28 That is, the first and the last, the second and the second last
letters, etc. This method of teaching was also used in the Hellen-
39 Aboth der. Nathan 6 ; for an earlier version of this story see
30 Semahoth 6. For the value of the various coins see article
" Money " in Jewish Encyc., or other similar work of reference.
A useful article will be found in the " Ozar Yisrael," article " Mat-
31 Baba Kama ii5a from the fourth century; Gittin 350. On
books in later times see S. Asaph in the u Reshumoth " I.
33 Baba Mezi'a 2gb.
33 Kethuboth 5oa. A good illustration of the scarcity of books
and its effects on education will be found above, Chap. II, Sec. Ill,
in the story of the argument between the two rabbis.
34 Sopherim 3. 13.
35 Sanhedrin iooa.
86 According to N. Sokolow in the " Kethubim," London, the
latter were collections of homiletic material.
37 Gittin 60; Yadayim 3. 5 ; and elsewhere.
1 Sukkah 420, ; Nedarim 32*1.
2 Kethuboth 50^.
3 Aboth 5. 24.
4 See essay by A. M. Lipshitz, quoted above.
5 Bereshith Rabbah 63.
6 At the present time it is still the custom for the father to say
this blessing when his son reaches the age of thirteen.
7 Freeman, op. cit., 49; Mahaffy, 17; and his article in Monroe's
Cyclop, of Educ. ; Monroe's " Source Book/' 32.
8 See Baba Kama H4&, quoted above; Taanith 23^?.
9 Pesahim 8b.
10 Kiddushin 3oa.
11 Famous codifier and philosopher of the twelfth century.
12 Baba Bathra i2ib; Hagigah 12. It is not, however, certain
that it applied to the elementary school.
13 Jewish Encyc., article on " Pedagogics."
14 Baba Bathra 8&.
15 Freeman, op. dt., 69; Cubberley, op. cit., 24.
16 Hagigah 156.
17 Baba Bathra 8& ; Erubin 54a; Berakhoth 63^; Aboth 2. 6;
18 Aboth 4, 26 ; Kiddushin 82^.
19 Mahaffy, ibid., 47.
20 Baba Bathra 210, and b; " Ozar Midrashim,'* Eizenstein, 513.
21 Kethuboth 62a ; a combination of several offices by the teacher
is quite common at the present time, especially in Western Euro-
pean and American Jewish communities.
23 Freeman, op. at., 81 ; Mahaffy, ibid. ; Monroe's Cyclop, of
Education, article *' Roman Education."
254 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
24 Martial, Epigrams, 9. 68.
24 See, for example, article on " Pedagogics " Jew. Encyc. ; or
article on Jew. Educ. in Monroe's Cyclop.
3 * Horayoth 130,.
3S Baba Bathra 8&.
27 Compare Martial's Epigram, quoted above.
28 Pesahim 49$ ; Sanhedrin 17?; ; but here the arrangement seems
to be casual; " Ozar Midrashim," ibid.
1 Levit. Rabb. 19 ; Aboth der. Nathan 14.
2 Gittin 8oa; Abod. Zar. loa.
3 Abod. Zar. 15^.
4 Daniel i. 4; Sabbath 120. " Beth-hasepher, " the Hebrew
word for "school," may be translated the " house of letters," or
5 Sanhed. 396.
6 On the character of the Talmudic proposition see Professor
Guttman, " Devir," 1-3, and Sh. Zuri, " Hamishpat Haziburi."
Neither of them, however, mentions the possibility of a Hellenistic
origin for the Talmudic method of disputation, nor even the likeli-
hood that it owed something to Hellenistic influence.
7 Sotah 49.
* See, for instance, Genesis Rabb. 63 ; Ber. 3& ; and elsewhere.
9 Menahoth 99!!?.
1 See, for instance, Schuerer, " A History of the Jewish People
in the Time of Jesus Christ," New Series, 24, p. 50; articles in
Cheyne and Hastings; Swift, i&id., p. 96, and others.
2 Lamentations Rabbah i. 5; for a description of the Roman
manner of finger-reckoning, see Cubberley, op. eft., 65.
3 See, for example, Judges 8. 14; Isaiah 10. 19, 29. n, 12, 18;
Jeremiah 36. ; Nehemiah 6. 17 ; i Chronicles 2. 55 ; 2 Chronicles
4 Kethuboth 28a; Shevuoth 45a; Aboth 3. 20; Ohaloth n. 5;
Mikvaoth 10. 10.
5 References: Sanhedrin 956; B. Bathra 21, 13601, i68b ;
Temurah 14. i; Hulin 90-; Erubin 130.; Gittin 24??; Canticles
I See article " Aggada " in Hebrew Encyc., " Eshkol."
3 For a comprehensive discussion of the synagogue readings see
the essay by Professor A. Bilchler in the J.Q.R., vols. v., vi., 1893-4.
3 Sabbath na, 13 j Sh. Zuri, ibid., 247-255.
4 This suggests itself from Megillah 24^.
5 Megillah 2oa; see, however, Schuerer, ibid., 79.
6 Compare the oft-quoted text in Aboth : " At five, for Scripture ;
at ten, for Mishnah ; at thirteen, for observance of commandments."
The leaving age is discussed elsewhere,
7 Megillah 24*1 ; Berakhoth 536 ; Gittin 580. ; Taanith 9. i ; Sanhe-
8 Kiddushin 300..
9 Menahoth 29*1 ; Berakhoth 62 b ; Sanhedrin 336 ; and often.
10 Levit Rabb. 7.
II Comp. A. M. Lipshitz, " Hatekufah " 7.'
12 Pesahim 60- ; A. Biichler, ibid.
14 Pesahim ioga, nqb, n6a.
15 Berakhoth 20.
16 Ibid., Sukkah 38*1.
17 Berakhoth 46^.
18 Berakhoth 500,
19 Ibid. 4 8a.
20 Erubin 28b.
31 Nazir 296.
22 Hagigah loa ; Baba Mezl'a 33 ; Baba Kama 54.
28 r Ab. Zarah 4*1.
34 Baba MezPa 85^ ; Ab. Zarah 56^.
Koheleth Rabb. 7.
28 Kiddushin 290; Freeman, op. cit., 152.
1 This chapter has been published in Hebrew, " Haolam, JJ
London, 1933, in the author's translation.
a Compare Hillel's saying, *' An ignorant person cannot be
pious," with Herbart's, " The ignorant man cannot be virtuous."
Dr. Rusk, in " The Doctrines of Great Educators," p. 215, renders
this saying thus : " The callous or apathetic man that is, the man
with blunted sensibility cannot be virtuous."
3 " Outline of Educational Doctrine/' Lange, p. 40,
4 Aboth i. 17, 3. 9.
256 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
5 Ab. Zarah. ijb.
6 Berakhoth iya. For his educational reforms see Baba Bathra
7 " Science of Education," Felkin's translation, 220, 84.
8 Kiddushin 20& ; B. Bathra i6a ; Ab. der. Nathan 16. 3.
9 Cantic. Rabb. on i. 3.
10 Felkin, ibid., 213-14.
11 John Dewey, " Democracy and Education,'* n.
12 R. Eliezer. Aboth 2. 8 ; Sukkah 280.
13 See Boyd's " History of Western Education," 369.
14 Leviticus 26. 44 ; Aboth 6. 2, 5, 6 ; Megillah 36 ; Berakhoth 8a ;
Sanhedrin 590.; Sabbath ii9b.
15 Quoted in Boyd's " History of West. Education," 360.
16 Berakhoth 10 ; Niddah 3ob ; and elsewhere.
17 Sanhedrin gib.
18 " Emile," translated by Barbara Foxley, p. 56.
19 Based on Genesis 8. 12. " Yezer " instinct, or native dis-
20 Ab. der. Nathan 16. 2.
21 Aboth 5. 21 ; see also Nazir 29?? and explanation of Rashi
22 Stanley Hall, " Adolescence," vol. 2, chap, xiii., where there
is also a section on Jewish confirmation.
23 Hall, ibid., Preface; vol. 2, pp. 70, 303, 452 and elsewhere.
Comp. W. James' " Varieties of Religious Experience," 199.
24 J. W. Slaughter, " The Adolescent," 42.
25 Olive A. Wheeler, " Youth," 165 ff.
26 " Social Psychology," 439.
27 Felkin, ibid., 72, 179.
28 Quoted in Boyd's " Hist, of West Educ.," 291.
29 Berakhoth 48a. The prophecy was handsomely fulfilled.
30 Sukkah 42a; Arakhin 2b, 30,.
31 On the Three Pilgrim Festivals Passover, Pentecost, Taber-
nacles ; Hagigah 2&.
32 Sukkah 28a.
1 McLellan and Dewey, " Applied Psycho.," 95.
2 Jeremiah 5. 22.
3 Leviticus u. 29^., 41 jff.
4 See, for instance, Klausner, " Harayon Hameshihi," Jeru-
salem, 1927, 12.
5 This subject is dealt with at some length in Chapter X and
also in connection with the curriculum.
6 " Instit. Orat.," Book II, chap. II. See also J. I. Baer, "Greek
Theories on Elementary Cognition," 316,
7 Erubin 54^; Taanith 8a; Yerushalmi Horayoth 3.
8 Strack, H. L., " Introduction to the Talmud,'' 25.
10 On Aristotle's laws of association see Sir W. Hamilton, " Lec-
tures on Metaphysics," vol. 2, Lectures 30-31 ; also J. I. Baer,
11 A discussion of this long-standing controversy will be found
in Strack, ibid.
12 Aboth 2. ii.
13 Taanith ya; Kethuboth nib; Aboth i. 16; Berakhoth 276.
14 See Chapter X, end of Section I.
15 This subject Is dealt with at some length in Chapter V, Sec-
16 Menahoth 29^. " The correct books of the house of the
teacher." Another rendering is, however, possible,
17 H. Wheeler Robinson, " Hebrew Psychology," in " The
People and the Book," 354.
18 On this subject see Baer, op. cit.
19 Deuteronomy 4. 9 ; Isaiah 46. 8, 57. n ; Jeremiah 3. 16, 44. 21 ;
Psalms 31. 13.
20 Exodus 17. 14; Deuteronomy 25. 19; Jeremiah 17. i, 31. 32;
Psalms 109. 14; Proverbs 3. 3, 6. 21, 7. 3.
21 Erubin 54^ ; for Plato's views see Baer, ibid.
22 " Instit. Orat.," ibid. Erubin 65; Nedarim 4ia; story of
Judah I ; and elsewhere. In the Talmud generally the heart, but
sometimes the brain, is considered the seat of intelligence; as to
memory, the heart seemed to be regarded as its seat until post-
Talmudic times. See " Khozari " 3-11. This was apparently also
the view of Ibn-Ezra and others.
23 Horayoth 136.
24 Sir W. Hamilton, ibid. ; " Instit. Orat.," ibid. See also
Ralston and Gage, " Present-day Psychology," 178 ff.
** Aboth 3. 10.
1 Abodah Zarah iga ; Sabbath 6$a.
2 Sabbath, ibid. ; Sanhedrin 36^.
3 Erubin 546 ; Yerushalmi, Berakhoth 5. i. See also Yevamoth
4 Taanith ga ; Kethuboth 1031? ; Bab. Mezi'a 8$b referred to
5 Bab. Bathra 2ib.
258 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
6 Quoted In Freeman's "Schools of Hellas,' 1 93; Cubberley,
' 'Readings," 5.
7 Freeman, op. a., 94-5.
8 H-erbart's " Minor Works " (Eckoff), pp. 34-6.
9 Sir T. P. Nunn, " Education : Data and First Principles,"
10 Dewey, " School and Society," 51. On the question of mak-
ing pupils learn verbatim proverbs, short poems, etc., see Bolton,
" Everyday Psychology for Teachers," p. 210. Watson's " Be-
haviourism," p. 41, contains an interesting passage bearing on
this matter. Compare also Erubin 54b, the simile of the fig tree.
11 Sanhedrin 99a.
12 Erubin 54^7 ; Taanith 8a.
13 Pesahim 720- ; Taanith Sa.
14 For Quintilian see "Instit. Orator," Book I, chap. i. ; Book II,
chap. IL ; for Plato and Aristotle, Baer, p. 311 ; Gomperz, " Greek
Thinkers," vol. 4, p. 183. Modern views on the subject will be
found in, among others, Sturt and Oakden, " Modern Psychology
and Education," p. 178; Breitwieser, " Psychological Education,"
pp. 143-4; P^ar, " Remembering and Forgetting," p. 10; Burton,
" Nature and Direction of Learning," pp. 146-150.
1 Hulin 63??; Menahoth 436.
2 G. H. Thomson, " Instinct and Intelligence," pp. 250-1 ; Rals-
ton and Gage, ibid. ; but compare Collins and Drever, " Experi-
mental Psychology," p. 232; and Charles Fox, "Educational
Psychology," London, 1935, pp. 181-2.
3 Erubin 54&; Abod. Zar. 190.; Leviticus Rab. 19; Deuter. Rab.
8j Quintilian, ibid.
4 " Dor dor Vedoreshav," vol. 2, p. 208*
5 KIddushin 3oa.
6 This subject is referred to in connection with the curriculum.
7 See article " Mnemonics," Jew. Encyc.
8 See chap, on the teaching of reading.
9 " The Montessori Method," translated by 'Anne E. George,
p. 307. There is a considerable literature on " silent reading "; a
systematic exposition will be found in Klapper's *' Teaching Chil-
dren to Read."
10 Erubin 54^. According to the Talmud the number of limbs
in the human body is 248. The custom of shaking to and fro dur-
ing study is based in the " Mahzor Vitri " on Exodus 20. 18 j see
S. Asaph, " Meqoroth," vol. i, p. 3.
11 Maimonides, the " Code," " Talm. Tor.,' 1 3. 12.
12 Genesis Rab. 65. See chap, on Discipline.
13 W. H. D. Rouse in "The New Teaching," edit, by John
Adams, p. 148.
14 Psalms 113-118.
15 Berakhoth 62a, and comment of Rashi there.
16 See W. Wickes, "A Treatise on the Accentuation, " 1887, p. 8.
17 Wickes, ibid.
18 On subject of this chap., see also Sir John Stainer, " The
Music of the Bible."
19 Rosh Hashanah 33^.
20 Protagoras/' Monroe's " Source Book," pp. 31-2.
21 Freeman, " Schools of Hellas," 107-114; Cubberley, *' His-
tory," p. 30.
32 C. Brereton, " Modern Language Teaching," 44-47.
23 Ab. Zarah iga.
24 Sabbath 58*?.
25 Sanhedrin, 1056.
26 Commentary on the Mishnah, introduction to chap. 10, San-
(This chapter has been published in Hebrew in the " Hachinuch^
New York, 1935, in the author's translation.)
1 Monroe, " Hist, of Educat.," pp. 95-6. See also Freeman,
op. cit., pp. 87-92.
2 B. Bathra 2ia.
3 See Jeremiah 25. 26, where " "]W " apparently stands for
" !?M." Also 51. i, where " >Dp 37" might stand for < DHCO.'*
4 " Schools of Hellas," ibid.
5 Sabbath iO4a.
6 Or " The Torah." It should be noted, however, that the
Hebrew word usually means " to teach." The word is not used
in the form which would give the meaning " to learn."
7 The two middle letters of the Tetragrammaton.
8 I.e., If you are charitable in the manner described above.
9 A reference to the mystical interpretations of the Torah.
10 Another version refers to the mnemonic signs used in study.
11 See Rashi. The question should be: "Why is the back of
the 4 Re ' turned towards the * Qof '?" The change was made
out of a sense of reverence.
12 Leaving an opening between it and the upper horizontal line
of the letter.
13 The word denoting " falsehood " is composed of three letters
2 6o THE JEWISH SCHOOL
standing close to one another In the alphabet ; of the three letters
which make up the word " truth," the first is found at the begin-
ning of the alphabet; the second, if finals are counted, exactly in
the middle ,* the third at the end.
14 The middle letter of the world " falsehood " is a sub linear
letter; the word, therefore, appears to stand on one leg; each of
the three letters composing the word " truth " has more than one
15 For instance, " Gimel, Daleth " = " gemol dallim"; " Peh "
" Peh "; and particularly the first" Aleph "- " aleph."
16 See, for instance, the article " Pedagogics," Jew. Encyclop.
17 In modern times illustrations of an entirely different nature
were used for the purpose of impressing upon the children's minds
the shapes of the letters. For a delightful description of these, see
Bialik's story, ' Saphiah."
18 Dionys. Halic., quoted in Wilkins' " National Educat. in
Greece," pp. 72-3.
19 J. Welton, " Principles of Teaching," p. 115.
20 The literature on the teaching of reading is very extensive.
For a systematic exposition of the subject the reader is referred to
E. B. Huey's " Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading," which
also contains a chapter on the history of reading methods ; and to
P. Klapper's " Teaching Children to Read." A useful chapter on
reading will also be found in Rusk's " Experimental Education."
21 Hastings' Diet of the Bible, article "Education." Ernest
Renan had at least a glimpse of the difficulty of the problem. See
" Life of Jesus," Everyman's, p. 47,
32 "Makre," " Mashnee."
21 Sukkah ^a.
24 There are numerous passages in the Talmud dealing with the
writing of scrolls. A good idea of the restrictions with which this
was surrounded may be obtained from the tractate " Sopherim."
2 * Taanith 276. The whole passage is important for this sub-
ject. The period was the early part of the third century C.E.
36 155, "iyi, -m, i;fr ny?, naii, 15*3, 13^, (ijn.)
37 See, for instance, " Aboth derabbi Nathan," chapters 6 and
15, the stories about Hillel and R. Akibah.
28 Sabbath 1476.
29 See Klapper, ibid.
30 See, for instance, Erubin 536; Megillah 24b.
31 to pa, flo, an, n, y.
32 A fuller discussion of the subject will be found in the writer's
" New Hebrew Primer," " Hayeled," Soncino Press, London,
1933 ; 3rd edition, " Omanuth," Tel-Aviv, 1936.
33 S. Pinsker : ** Introduction to the Babylonian System of Punc-
tuation," Hebrew, 1863, P- 6 and elsewhere. Weiss, "Dor dor
Vedoreshav," vol. 4, pp. 248-9.
34 " Canticles Kabbah " 2. 4.
1 For bibliography on the subject see various Encyclopaedias
and Dictionaries, especially Jewish Encycl., article *' Targum "
and " Ozar Israel," article of the same title.
2 Megillah 240,.
3 See on this subject Chapter X.
4 See, for instance, i Chronicles 25. 8 ; and elsewhere.
5 The last phrase may also be translated " and they (the people)
understood the reading " instead of " and they caused to under-
stand. ' * But both in the verse immediately before and in the verse
immediately after, the verb is used in the sense of " causing to
understand," " teaching," or " explaining," and is applied to the
6 Kiddushin 4ga.
7 Megillah 240,.
8 See Chapter XII, Section II.
9 " Instit. Orator.," Book I, chap. 5.
10 Berakhoth 8a.
11 For a full discussion of the subject of Direct Method and
translation, with particular reference to the teaching of Hebrew,
see the writer's Hebrew essay, " Haolam," London, November,
1933 ; also his article in the Jewish Review, 7, 1934 ; see also intro-
ductions to the writer's textbooks, " Hayeled " and " Hanaar,"
13 Quoted in " Modernism in Language Teaching," H. E. Moore,
The literature on language teaching is very extensive. Harold
Palmer's books may be mentioned particularly.
1 Comenius, " The Great Didactic," translated by M. W. Keat-
inge, pp. 249-52.
s Kallah Rab., chap. 2.
4 " Ethics of the Fathers," 6. 4.
5 Ibid., i, 4.
6 " The Mimes and Fragments of Herondas," Walter Headlam,
262 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
7 See, for instance, the article on " Law and Justice ** In the
Encyc. Biblica, Cheyne and Black.
8 Exodus 21. 23 ff. ; Leviticus 24. 19, 20; Deuteronomy 19. 21.
9 Deuteronomy 13. 6, 12; 17. 7, 12, 13; 19. 13, 19, 20; 21. 21;
10 Deuteronomy 8. 16.
11 k< The Mimes and Fragments of Herondas," p. 115.
13 Makkoth 22&.
13 B. Bathra 210,
11 See, for instance, article on " Pedagogics " in Jew. Encyc.
15 Makkoth, ibid.
16 Sukkah zga.
17 Semahot 8.
18 " Sources for the History of Education from the Middle Ages
to Modern Times," S. Asaph (Hebrew), p. 270,
19 Martial, " Epigrams," Book IX, 68, quoted in Cubberley's
" Readings in the History of Education," p. 36.
30 B. Bathra, ibid.
31 Arakhin i6&.
22 Menahoth 7^.
23 William Boyd, " Hist, of West. Educat," pp. 79-80.
34 Kethuboth 960.
15 Hulin io7&.
26 Makkoth i6b ; Gitdn 36; Bekhoroth 460. This explanation of
die '* transgression " is found only in the last-mentioned place;
in the two other places the same commentator, Rashi, merely says
that he beat the children too severely.
27 Numbers Rabbah, chap. 12.
28 Taanith 24^. This passage is given also by L. Gr. in his
article on " Pedagogics " in the Jew. Encycl., but it is difficult to
see what basis there is for his rendering.
1 tl History of Hebrew Civilisation," 194.
3 Pesahim n8a.
3 Genesis 49. 24; Isaiah 40. n; Jeremiah 31. 9; Psalms 23. i,
80. 2 ; and many others.
4 Exodus 31. 1-6; see also i Kings 7. 14; Jeremiah 10. 9;
i Chronicles 22. 15 ; 2 Chronicles 2. 12.
5 See, for instance, Proverbs 10. 5, 26; 12. n, 24; 13. 4; 15. 19;
and often ; Psalm 128. 2.
6 See, for example, Hosea 12. 8.
7 Compare Micah 6. 8.
8 See G. Glotz, "Ancient Greece at Work," 321; also Cub-
berley, " History of Education," 20.
9 Monroe, " Source Book of the History of Education, Greek
and Roman Period," 21.
ia Freeman, " Schools of Hellas," 43.
11 Glotz, ibid.
12 See, on this subject, Dewey, " Democracy and Education,"
12 Charles' edition, 38. 24-39. 3 1 - F- H. Swift, in " Education
in Ancient Israel," 82, sees in this passage " the most complete
description of the ideal scribe that has descended to us from that
14 See Cheyne and Black, Encyclopaedia BIblica, article " Edu-
cation." For a general discussion of Hellenistic influence on
Ben-Sira see Introduction to Ben-Sira in Charles' edition of
the Apocrypha; article " Sirach " in Jew. Encyc. ; '* Books of the
Apocrypha," by W. O. E. Oesterley. One of the latest writers on
Ben-Sira, Dr. Cherikover, in his Hebrew book, " Hayehudim
vehayevanim," has nothing to say on the subfect. It is instructive
to compare the reactions of Jeremiah (18) and Ben-Sira respectively
to the potter and his craft.
15 Aristotle, " Politics," Book VIII, chap. 2, Ellis' translation.
16 See on this subject Franz Delitzsch, " Jewish Artisan Life in
the Time of Jesus," 1902.
1 Kiddushin 2901. Compare Ephesians 4. 28 : " Let him that
stole steal no more : but rather let him labour, working with his
hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him
that hath need."
2 Baba Mezi'a 83**.
3 Baba Kama ii6b; Hulin 54^.
4 Ber. lya.
6 Ab. der. Nathan n; Nedarim 496; Baba Bathra noa; San-
hedrin 29*1; Aboth 2. 2; Ber. 8a.
6 Fr. Paulsen, " German Education Past and Present," 183,
7 Traces of Hellenistic Influence may be found in this chapter
too. Compare " No one is really a free man unless he is engaged
in the study of the Torah " which is reminiscent of the Greek
ideal of contemplative knowledge.
8 Ber. 356.
9 Kiddushin 82. The whole page is important for the subject
10 Ibid., yoa.
264 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
11 Ibid., 82 ; and In other places.
12 Gratz 3. 33; Sukkah 516 ; Megillah 260; Nazir 52a; Yoma
13 Pesahim io8a; Gittin 58a; Makkoth 8b ; Abodah Zarah 156.
34 KIddushin 2ga.
15 Exodus ii. 5; Joshua 9. 21, 23, 27; Judges 16, 21; Lamenta-
tions 5. 13. On the hawker amongst the Greeks see Glotz, op. cil.,
16 Yevamoth 6%a. ' ^
17 Klddusm &2b. A whole list of despised occupations will be
18 Hagigah jb ; Kiddushin, ibid.
19 Sanhedrin 58?? ; Yevamoth, ibid.
20 Ber. 43 ib.
1 Isaiah 49. 15 ; Sanhedrin io5a.
2 Jeremiah 31. 19; Hosea u. i.
3 Psalms 103. 13.
4 2 Samuel 12. 16; 19. i.
5 Genesis 21. 16 ; 2 Kings 4. 20.
6 Genesis 4. i, 30. 2 ; comp. Malachi 2. 15.
7 Genesis 48. 9; Isaiah 8. 18; Psalms 127. 3; Job. i. 21.
8 i Samuel 4. 21 ; Isaiah 7. 14, 8. 3 (62. 4) ; Hosea i. 6.
9 Jeremiah 6. 26, 20. 15 ; Amos 8. 10 ; Zechariah, 12. 10.
10 Genesis 19. 30 ff., 30. i; Numbers 27. 4; i Samuel i. n, 12.
11 G. H. Payne, " The Child in Human Progress," 194, 198.
12 Psalms 127. 4, 128. 3, 144. 12.
13 Job 42. 13 ff. ; Zechariah 8. 5.
14 Genesis 21. ; Exodus 2. ; Ezekiel 16. 4^. ; Psalms 27. 10. See
also Eraser, " Folklore in the Old Testament," vol. 3, pp. 437-64.
15 Jeremiah 14. 5,- Lamentations 2. u, 12, 19, 20; 4. 2ff.
16 Genesis 22. ; Judges n. 34 ff.
17 Deuteronomy 12. 31; i Kings 16. 34; 2 Kings 3. 27, 17. 31;
Ezekiel 20. 26; Micah 6. 7.
18 Isaiah 57. 5 ; Jeremiah 19., 7. 31 ; Ezekiel 16. 20, 21 ; 20. 26-31 ;
19 2 Kings 16. 3, 21* 6; 2 Chronicles 28. 3, 33. 6.
20 W. B. Stevenson, " Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, " Guild text-
books, 1920, p. i.
21 Leviticus 26. 29; Deuteronomy 28. 53; 2 Kings 6. 26$,;
Ezekiel 5. 10 ; Lamentations 2. 20, 4. 10.
22 2 Kings, ibid.; Josephus, " Wars," 6. 3.
23 2 Kings 8. 12; Isaiah 13. 16; Hosea 14. i; Psalms 137, 9,
24 See Deuteronomy 7. 13, 28. 4, n, 17; also 2 Kings 4, i;
Isaiah 50. i; Proverbs 19. 18; comp. Roman " Twelve Tablets" :
" If a father sells his son three times, let the son then go free of
the father." See Payne, ibid., 213, 215, 217, 246.
25 See, however, Deuteronomy 21. iSff.
26 Genesis 42. 37.
27 Joshua 7. 25 ; 2 Samuel 21. 6, 9.
28 Jeremiah 12, i, 2; 31. 28-29; Ezekiel 14. 12 ff. ; 18. ; 33. 12 ff.
29 Sanhedrin 37^.
30 See, for instance, Ohaloth 7. 6.
31 G. H. Payne, ibid., 270.
32 Makhshirim, 2. 7.
33 Payne, ibid., 13.
34 " Legacy of Greece," 329-345 ; Freeman, op. cit. ; John Adams,
Encyc. for Relig. and Ethics, article " Greek Education"; but
see C. Delisle Burns, " Greek Schools," 80, and Van Hook,
" Greek Life and Thought," 83-87.
35 Klausner, " Historiya," vol. 2, p. 187.
36 Nedarim 380.
37 Pesahim 68&.
38 Aboth 2. 14.
39 Ibid., 3. 18.
1 The wounds his son would receive as a result of his evil ways.
2 Ben Sira 30. 1-13.
3 Lamentations 3. 27.
4 i Samuel 3. 13 ; i Kings i. 6.
3 See Genesis 31. 35; Exodus 20. 12; Leviticus 19. 3; Malachi
6 A favourite figure with Isaiah: i. 2, 3; 30. i; also Jeremiah
4. 22; Deuteronomy 21. 18 ff.
7 Deuteronomy 8. 5; 2 Samuel 7. 14; Proverbs 13. 24; 17. 10;
22. 15; 23. 13, 14; 29. 15, 19; 27. 22. With regard to this latter,
Toy makes an unconvincing distinction between " moral " and
" intellectual " folly.
8 Quoted in Wilkins' " Roman Education."
9 See on this an interesting passage in J. B. Watson's " Be-
haviourism," p. 41.
10 Sotah 47a; Sanhedrin 1076.
11 Kiddushin 80, and in numerous places in the Talmud.
ia Sabbath 152*7.
13 i Samuel 2. 19.
14 Kelim, chap. 14, 26; Zebahim S&fc; Yerush^lmi, Sanhedrin
io i ; Yoma 786.
266 THE JEWISH SCHOOL
15 MIdrash, " Shoher Tov."
16 Sabbath 58^
17 Gittln 57.
18 Kelim, chap. 26; Bekhoroth 350.; Taarnth (Yer.) 3. 6.
19 Bekhoroth 300.; Baba Mezi'a 6oa; Kethuboth ija.
20 Midrash on Proverbs.
21 Sabbath 1056.
22 Berakhoth 32^; Hulin 84.
23 Semahoth, chap. 2. 4.
25 Hulin 940;.
26 Kiddushin 310.; Makkoth 8a; and elsewhere; Moed Qatan
27 Sanhedrin 706; Nedarim 31^.
28 Kiddushin, ibid.
29 Kethuboth 5ia; Makkoth 8a.
30 William M. Cooper, " A History of the Rod."
31 Kiddushin 31.
1 Hagigah 6a.
2 Erubin 46^, 71 &, Sob.
2 Hagigah 3&; Sopherim 18. 5, 6.
4 Sabbath 586.
5 See Megillah 27^; also Sabbath n8a.
6 See, for instance, the story about " Joseph who honoured the
Sabbath," Sabbath uga.
7 Rosh Hashanah 33a, 32^. Even on the Sabbath children
would be allowed to practise it.
8 The earliest age for fasting mentioned in the Talmud was
eight (Yoma Ssa). But it is not unreasonable to suggest that
children then, as now, would attempt to imitate their elders before
9 Sukkah 45a.
10 Pesachim n6a.
11 Berakhoth ija.
12 Megillah 240.
13 Ibid., 28fc.
14 B. Bathra I2&. Of a curious " prophecy " of a little girl,
see on same page.
15 See Hulin 95 b, the story of R. Yohanan, whose habit it was
apparently to decide actions in this manner. For other interest-
ing incidents in connection with this practice, see Gittin 58^, the
story of R. Joshua; Hagigah 150, and b, story of Elisha b. Abuiah ;
Gittin 68a, story of R. Shesheth.
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES
Abraham, 60, 76, 183, 190, 193
Absalom, 2 18
Accents, biblical, 141
zEsopian fables, 74
Aha, Rabbi, 49
Aids to memory, 137-144
Aims of education, 100
social, 102-103, in
conservative and creative,
Akiba, Rabbi, 21, 31, 55, 190,
Alexander the Great, u
Alexandria, 39, 46, 170, 198
Alphabet, teaching of, 55, 72, 79,
86, 87, 138, 147-151
Alphabetic method, 151
Am Haarez (see Glossary), 20,
21, 45, 94
Ammi, Rabbi, 139
Analytic method (reading), 152,
Aramaic, 127, 160, 162, 163
Aristobulus, Judan, n
Aristotle, 121, 132, 190, 214
Aristotelian laws of association,
Arithmetic, 72, 78
in Roman school, 79, 169
Artisans' guilds, 198
Ashi, Rabbi, 49
Assi, Rabbi, 89
" Assyrian " alphabet, n
Athens, 4, 29, 33, 38, 46, 51, 56,
62, 64, 65, 95, 170, 181, 185,
Babylonia, 9, 20, O i, 58, 72, 81,
82, 85, 127, 151, 160, 191, 240,
Babylonian captivity, 9, 13, 209,
Bacher, W., 89
Ballard, P. B., 181
Bar Kochba, 17, 21, 41, 52, 55,
6 7 76, 91, 96, i95-i9 6 i J 97
Bar Mizvah (see Glossary), 86,
Ben Azzai, 31
Benjamin, son of Jacob, 211
Ben-Sira, 141, 173, 187-189, 190,
199, 217-218, 219, 240
Bergson, H., 113
Berthplet, A., 182
Beruriah, wife of Rabbi Meir,
Bethar, city of, 54, 236
Book of the Covenant, 171
Books. See Scrolls
Boyd, William, xxvi, 40-41
Buchler, A., 50
Ceremonial, religious, 10, 109,
117, 161, 169, 222-223, 227-230
THE JEWISH SCHOOL
in earlier times, 6, 173, 203-
parental love, 203-204
as a gift from God, 205
the son and the daughter,
in tribal warfare, 210
as property of father, 203,
acquisition of rights, 203,
in later times, 214, 227-231
in Talmudic literature, 220-
in Hellenistic world, 206,
at home, child, 217-227, 228-
in earlier times, 217-219
in Talmudic times, 220-227
among other peoples, 219,
relation to parents, 226-227
religious life, 227-231
social life, 23 1
Childhood, in, 221
memory in, 132-133
Chronicles, book of, 136
Clement of Alexandria, 33
Comenius, 166, 167, 169
Commerce, 199, 200
and individual, 214-216
Compulsory education among
Creative aim of education, 95-96
Creeds, 145. See Glossary
Cubberley, E. P., xxv
in elementary school, 71-96,
Curriculum (continued) :
secular subjects, 72-77
alphabet, 79, 86
reading, 79, 145, 146-156
" Oral Law, "94-96
in Greek school, 72
Daniel, book of, 68
Daughter, the, 24, 31-32, 206-
David, 6, 76, 183, 190, 218
" Day of Atonement," 229-230
Despised trades, 199, 200
Deuteronomy, book of, 4, 8, 58,
122, 153, 171
Dewey, John, 105, 131, 241
Diaspora, 39, 46, 90
Direct method, 115, 143
Comenius' views on, 166,
in Jewish high school, 167-
. l68 .
in Jewish elementary school,
in Greek school, 173, 174
in other schools, 175
in the home, 221, 223-226
" Disputational " method, 12,
Dosetai ben Jannai, 124
f Early Christian education, xrvi
Ecclesiastes, book of, 28-29, 38,
Education, Jewish :
in Bible times, 4-5, 7-8
formal, 5, 7, 15, 60
literary, for children, 6, 8, 59
concept of, 8
early terminology, 10
beginnings, u, 12
compulsory and universal,
of girls, 28, 31-32
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES
Education, Jewish (continued) :
of the poor, 45
theory of, 99-111
psychology of, 104-108
practical training, 108-111,
128, 144, 169, 222-223
achievements of, xxviii-xxix
Egypt, 117, 1 60, 211, 230
Eleazar, Rabbi, 216
Elementary school, Greek :
closed to girls, 33
organisation, 45-46, 51, 52
internal arrangements, 54-55
entrance and leaving age, 62
school hours, 63
the teacher, 66
methods of study, 127-128
reading, 146, 148, 151
Elementary school, Jewish :
in Hebrew Bible, 4
in New Testament, 4
public control, 4, 12, 44-45,
rise of, 12, 13, 14-23, 40-41
fees, 12, 43-44, 5 1 * 60, 62, 63
closed to girls, 31-33
Hellenistic influence, 38-
as private institution, 43-44?
home of, 48-52, 95-96, 235-
internal arrangements, 53
entrance age, 60-6 1
leaving age, 61-62
school hours, 63
the teacher, 65-68
contrasted with Greek
scope of studies, 71-73
Elementary school, Jewish (con-
secular subjects, 73-77
reading, 79, 147-156
Bible, 85, 86-89
beginning with Leviticus,
11 Oral Law," 94-95
function of, 95-96
place of memory, 120-121
methods of study, 126-127
translation, 127, 160-161,
comparison with Festal ozzi,
methods of memorisation,
reading aloud, 140
music, 142, 169
expressive reading, 143
place of interest, 144-145
general description, 168-169
Elementary teacher :
full-time occupation, 44, 64
economic position, 45, 51
as public official, 51, 68
in post-Talmudic times, 68
Eliezer, Rabbi, 57
Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, Rabbi,
Eliezer ben Jacob, Rabbi, 139
English language, xxix, 156
Entrance age :
to elementary school, 60-6 1,
to higher education, 61-62
in Greek school, 62
Esau, 5, 61
Esther, book of, 57, 86, 88
" Esthetic Revelation of the
41 Ethics of the Fathers," 52, 61,
72, 167, 196
" Evil inclination," 106, 107, 108
Exodus, book of, 5, 155, 235
44 Experimental Psychology,"
Collins and Drever, 135
Exposure of children, 207-208
Expressive reading, 140, 143,
Ezekiel, book of, 26, 27, 142, 172,
207, 209, 212
Ezra, 39, 40
" Faculty " psychology, 113
development of, 6
as social unit, 212
Father, as teacher, 4, 10, 21-22,
32, 42, 59-60, 66, 102, 192,
Feats of memory, 124
in elementary school, 13, 43-
44, 51, 60, 62, 63
in higher education, 43-44,
Flogging, i73- J 77> 218-219, 224-
Gamaliel, Rabban, 52, 191
Genesis, book of, 58, 71, 86, 89,
" Genius of language," 163-
11 Good inclination," 106, 107
" Grace after meals," 92-93, no
Grammarians, Hebrew, 158
" Great Assembly," 41
" Greek " cities in Palestine, 38
Greek language, n, 72-77, 143,
" Greek wisdom," 73-77, 103
Gymnasium, Greek, 12, 72
Gymnastics, 72, 169
Hagar, 204, 207
" Haggadah " (for Passover), 92
Hagiographa. See Writings
Hall, Stanley G., 106, 107
THE JEWISH SCHOOL
" Hallel " (see Glossary), 58, 91,
Hanina, Rabbi, 22, 153
Hanina Qara, Rabbi, 153
Hanukkah, feast of dedication,
Hasmonean period, 18, 38
Heart, in ancient Jewish psycho-
Hebrew language, xxix, 18, 59,
60, 75, 86, 127, 151, 160,
Greek influence on, 38-39,
peculiarities of, 147, 156
Heine, H., 175
Hellenistic influence, n, 12, 29,
3<>> 37-4i> 80, 189, 190, 192,
Hellenistic period, 30, 38, 47,
Herbart, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105,
108, 129, 130
Hereditary trades, 6, 198, 200
Herod, 4, 28, 240
Herondas, Mimes and Frag-
ments of, 173, 224
Higher education, n, 12
teacher's position, 43-44, 67-
internal arrangements, 52-53
starting age, 61
intelligence tests, no
methods, 118-120, 125-126,
131-132, 134-135, 136, 137,
Hillel, 190, 216, 235, 240
*' History of Hebrew Civilisa-
tion," A. Bertholet, 182
" History of Western Educa-
tion," William Boyd, xxvi, 40
Hiyya, Rabbi, 22, 49, 120
Hiyya, son of Rav, 175
in Jewish school, 63-64, 169
in Greek school, 65, 169
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES 273
Honi Hameaggel, 235-236
Hosea, 26, 27
" House of Study " (" Beth
Hamidrash "), 6, 32, 49, 61,
76, 93, 96, 148, 167, 235
" Ideal scribe," 187-188
Individual differences, 109, no
Individual responsibility, 212-216
Individualistic aim of education,
Industrial revolution, xxviii
Instincts, 101, 105, 106, 107-108,
204, 205, 220
In tellectuali stic tendency, m
Intelligence age, 59, 93, 109-110
Intelligence tests, 109-110
Interest, 130-131, 144-145
Isaac, 6, 76, 193, 208
Isaiah, 39, 81, 88, 122, 142, 204
Ishmael, Rabbi, 196, 197
Jacob, 5, 6, 61, 76, 193, 211
Jamnia, 116, 193
Jephtha's daughter, 208
Jeremiah, 6, 25, 39, 116, 122,
Jerusalem, 9, n, 12, 16, 18, 22,
33 > 3^? 46, 90,^ no, 170, 177,
207, 210, 2l8, 222
Job, book of, 55, 56, 88, 172,
205, 206, 213
bhanan ben Mathia, Rabbi, 193
ohanan Hasandlar, Rabbi, 190
bseph, 5, 6, 205, 211
oseph, Rabbi, 227
josephus, 14, 15, 19, 210
Joshua, book of, 76, 148, 161
"oshua ben Gamala, 16-17, 18,
19/20, 23, 49, 61, 242
Joshua ben Hananiah, Rabbi,
Joshua ben Levi, Rabbi, 148
Judah, Rabbi, 139
Judges, book of, 24, 68
11 Jus talionis," 171
Kennedy, A. R. S., 152-154, 236
Kethubim. See Writings
Klausner, J., 17-19
Knowledge and power, 114
Labour and leisure, 184
Lamentations, book of, 142, 207
Language teaching, 159-160,
Latin, > 72, 143, 175
Learning and doing, 100, 108-
iii, 184, 188
Leaving age :
in Jewish school, 61-62, 168
in Greek school, 62-63
Length of lesson :
in higher education, 136
in elementary school, 136-137
Leviticus, book of, 58, 71, 86,
In school, 89-91
" Liberal " and professional edu-
cation, 181, 184, 186, 190
Life after death, belief in, 213,
Liturgy, 10, 58, 65, 72, 82, 85,
93, 141, 153, 222, 228, 230,
in school, 91-94
Locke, J., 109
Maccabean revolt, n, 12, 13, 72
Mahaffy, J. P., 236
Maimonides, 44, 63, 64, 137, 140,
Manner of flogging, 174
Manual work, attitude to, 181-
amongst ancient Hebrews,
in classical Greece, 184-186,
in Ben-Sira, 187-189
THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Manual work (continued) :
in early Talmudk period,
In later Talmudic period,
in legal literature, 192-193
in homiletical literature,
I93' I 95
eulogies of, 194-195
other views, 195-198
Marriage, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32-33
McDougall, W., 107, 204
Meir, Rabbi, 50, 82, 124, 139
Memorisation, methods of, 131-
Memory, 113-143, 163
in modern education, 112-
"pure" and "rote," 113,
. "7 *% .
in Talmudic times, 115-121,
Quintilian on, 118, 123, 124,
in the Bible, 121-123
superstitions about, 124
feats of, 124
in childhood, 132-133
aids to, 137-144
Mental discipline, 147
Messianic Utopias, 116-117
Methods of teaching :
Scripture, n, 41
" Direct," 115, 143
logical and psychological,
reading, 145, 146-156
Mishnah (see Glossary), 21, 22,
23, 6i 7 2 94, 95, H9 126,
127, 136, 137, 140, 141, 153,
160, 200, 237
Mishnaic period, 49, 51, 237
Mnemonics, 137-138, 150
Monroe, P M xxv, 146
Montessori, M., 138
Moses, 15, 52, 131, 157, 183, 190,
as teacher, 6, 28
social position of, 25-26
her love of children, 204
" Multiple stimulation," 134
Music, 72, 142-143, 169, 190
Nahman ben Isaac, Rabbi, 119
Nehemiah, book of, 41, 161, 162
" New Education," 114, 130-
New Year, festival of, 229
Numbers, book of, 58
Nunn, Sir Percy T., 129, 130
Obadiah, book of, 72
" Oral Law," 12, 26, 31, 43, 49,
67, 68, 76, 81, 82, 85, 115,
125, 136, 137, 153
in the elementary school, 94-
methods of study, 118-120,
125-126, I3i-i3 2 i34- I 35
136, i37 i3 8 ~*4o
" Outward " signs, 229
Palestine, n, 14, 19, 58, 65, 81,
127, 136, 151, 160, 182,
modern, xxviii-xxix, 156
Paradise story, 7, 182
Parental "fear " and " honour,"
Parental love, 203, 204
Passover, festival of, 5, 92, 109,
among Jews, 63
among Greeks, 63
Pentateuch, 22, 23, 41, 57, 71,
72, 85, 86, 87, 88, 136,
157, 163, 230
in the school, 87-89, 136
Pentecost, festival of, 64, 229
Persian Empire, u
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES 275
Pestalozzi, 129-130, 151
Pharisees, 17, 18, 20, 215, 240
Philo, 14, 15, 19, 85
Philosophy of education (in Ben-
Phonic method (reading), 151-
Pinsker, S., 157
Plato, 121, 122, 132, 142, 214
Poetry, biblical, 140-141
Popular education, Jewish :
rise of, 3-13
Hellenistic influence on, 37-
Practical religious training, 6,
10, 15, 59-6o, 92, 93, 108-111,
128, 144, 169, 222-223, 2 4
as teachers, 8
contrasted witli prophets, 9
Principles of organisation :
of Jewish school, 41-47
of Greek school, 45-46
Project method, 92, 115
Prominent women, 26, 28
Prophecy, 9, 172
Prophets, 117, 184, 189, 205, 209,
as teachers, 8
contrasted with priests, 9
books of, 71, 72, 85, 87, 88
in the school, 87-88, 94
Proverbs, book of, 27, 56, 88,
119, 122, 173, 218, 219
Psalms, 56, 57, 58, 88, 91, 92,
109, 122, 136, 144, 157, 207
Jewish, 104-108, 121-124
" Faculty " psychology, 113
Punishment, theories of, 170-173
preventive, 171, 225
reformative, 172, 173
as a test of character, 172,
as intellectual stimulus, 175,
Punishment (continued) :
holiday from, 176-177
of children, 224-225
* 4 Pure " knowledge, 184
Quintilian, 118, 123, 124, 132,
i35> 164, 173
Raba, 49, 100
Rabbi (Judah I), 49, 136, 200
Rashi (see Glossary), 235, 236
Rav, 49, 64, 81, 126, 144, 173,
177, 200, 242
Rav's rule, 144-145
Reading, the teaching of, 15, 79,
Reading aloud, 138-140
Religious ceremonial, 10, 106,
108, 109, 117, 161, 169, 222-
Religious training, 6, 10, 15, 28,
59-60, 92, 93, 108-111, 128,
130, 144, 169, 222-223, 240
Revival of Hebrew, xxix
Rewards and punishments, 144,
145, 167, 169, 170, 173-177
Rhetorical school, Greek, 12, 74
Roman education, xxviii, 15, 66,
Roman wars, 10, 13, 17, 19, 30-
3 1 * 4i, 75-76, 91, 102-103
Rome, 15, 66, 170, 218
Rouse, W. H. D., 143
Rousseau, 105, 106, 130, 133, 151
Sabbath, the, 10, 32, 44, 64, 74,
85, 86, 91, 106, 109, 192, 221,
222, 229, 231, 237
Salome Alexandra, 12, 16, 28
Samuel, Rabbi, 139, 176
Samuel ben Shilath, Rabbi and
elementary teacher, 68
Sanctity of life, 213
THE JEWISH SCHOOL
Saul, 183, 212
School for adults (Synagogue),
10, 85, 151
School hours :
in Jewish school, 63, 169
in Greek school, 64, 169
Schools for youths, 11-12, 13, 17
Scribes, 40, 82, 83
Scripture readings :
in the Synagogue, 85-86, 87,
88, 91, 136, 159
Scrolls, 53, 56-58, 118-121
costliness of, 56
writing of, 56, 82
scarcity of, 57
reverence for, 57
special scrolls for children,
53, 58, 71, 86, 87, 91, 168,
Self-activity of pupil, 119-120
Septuagint, 39, 160
Shammai, no, 235
Shema (see Glossary), 58, 60, 92,
Shesheth, Rabbi, 215
Shunem, " great woman " of,
Silent reading, 138-139
Simon ben Gamaliel, Rabbi, 75,
Simon ben Shetah, 12, 15, 16, 18
Simon ben Yohai, Rabbi, 196, 197
Slaughter, J. W., 107
Social aim of education, 102-103,
Social ideals, 214-216
Socrates, 21, 46, 186
Son, the, 205-207
Song of Moses, 141
Song of Songs, 53, 142
" Sons of the prophets, " 8
Soul, the, 105
Spartan education, 20, 37-38, 93
Special scrolls for children, 53,
58, 71, 86, 87, 91, 168, 241
Spelling, teaching of, 148, 156
Stevenson * R. L., 165
Stevenson, W. B., 209
Strack, H, L., 118
Superstitions about memory,
Swift, F. H., 242
rise of, 9-10, 13
as school for adults, 10, 85,
as means of indirect educa-
tion for children, 10, 109,
117, 130, 229, 230-231
as home of elementary
school, 18, 19, 32, 40, 48-
52, 54, 60, 66, 71, 95-96,
144, 168, 221, 235-238
as " people's house," 51, 82,
90, 236, 240
services, 57, 58, 85, 93, 141,
222, 228, 230
scriptural readings, 85-86,
87, 88, 136, 159, 161-164
Synhedrion (see Glossary), 52
Synthetic method (reading), 152
Tabernacles, festival of, no,
Talmud, the, xxvi, xxvii, 12, 15,
59, 61, 71, 72, 81/94, 95, 118,
120, 122, 124, 126, 127, 137,
139, 171, 176, 192, 199, 215,
22O, 221, 222
Talmudic literature, 14, 15, 20,
21, 31, 59, 76, 101, 118-
120, 124, 136, 167, 204,
the child in, 220-223
Talmudic period, 239-240
Tarphon, Rabbi, 50, 226
early names, 10, 162, 234
qualifications, 42, 45, 65
economic position, 45, 66
as public official, 51, 68
social status, 66-68
in post-Talmudic times, 68
importance of, for pupil,
in Hellenistic school^ 66
INDEX OF SUBJECTS AND NAMES
Teaching, in Bible times :
"Tell me your verse," 93, 136,
Ten Commandments, 25, 94
" Text-book in the History of
Education," P. Monroe, xxv
Theories of punishment, 170-173
of children, 224-225
Theory and practice, 104, 108-
Theory of education :
Herbartian, 100-102, 104-
" Three R's," the, 78, 154
Titus, 75, 210
Tobit, book of, 220
Torah, 6, 16, 18, 21, 22, 30,
3i 32, 43, 44 52, 53> 55. 57>
59, 60, 67, 71, 72, 75, 76, 91,
101, 103-104, 108, i jo, in,
116, 119, 131, 135, 139, 141,
144, 145, 162, 167, 168, 192,
193, i94 *95> *96> *97, 214,
hereditary transmission, 6,
" fine " and " menial," 197-
despised, 199, 200
Transfer of training, 147
in school, 127, 160-161, 164-
origin of, 159-160
in Synagogue, 161-164
modern views on, 163, 165
Types of memory* 134-135
Universal education among
Virtue and knowledge, 184
Vowel system, Hebrew, 65, 79,
120, 121, 127, 137, 141, 147,
152, 154, 155, 156-158, 169
Weiss, I. H., 21, 157
Wheeler, O. A., 107
" Whole " and " part " method,
in early Bible times, 24-27,
as daughter, 24, 31-32, 206-
as mother, 25-26
as wife, 25, 26, 27, 32, 33
in second temple times, 27-30
in education, 28, 31-32, 42
in post-temple times, 30-33,
early marriage, 32-33
in ancient Greece, 29, 33
in early Christianity, 33-34
Women, prominent :
in early Bible times, 26
in second temple times, 28
in Bible times, 80
in early Talmudic times, 80
in later Talmudic times, 81-
of scrolls, 82
Writings (Hagiographa), 71, 72,
Ze'era, Rabbi, 93-94
Zimmern, A. .,214